SANC­TUM

Viet Nam News - - CULTURE -

my mother also made me help in the kitchen from an early age and some­how cook­ing be­came a hobby. We cooked or­di­nary Asian dishes to be eaten with rice for din­ners or lunches. Noth­ing is really so­phis­ti­cated or spe­cial but thanks to that I gained some bold­ness in the kitchen and de­cent ba­sics, for ex­am­ple, to take care of a sharp knife or to make the meat ten­der.

In­ner Sanc­tum: What do you think about Viet­namese cui­sine? What are the main dif­fer­ences be­tween that and Euro­pean cui­sine?

Ev­ery day, I cook and eat Viet­namese food with my fam­ily. I love the fact that it's very fresh and light. Here in Poland, I guess be­cause of the cold weather, the food is some­times too oily and heavy. Euro­pean cui­sine in gen­eral doesn't ap­pre­ci­ate crunchy and stringy tex­tures as much as Asian. There are a lot of sauces and I feel like ev­ery meat I cook should be melt­ing in the mouth. There are many more tech­niques, whereas in Asia, dishes are really quickly pre­pared, and there are fewer pre­served foods. It doesn't mean that Euro­pean cui­sine is worse, it is just dif­fer­ent, and I en­joy them both.

In­ner Sanc­tum: Do you in­clude Viet­namese cui­sine in your MasterChef book?

There is a chap­ter in the book on tra­di­tional Viet­namese food, for ex­am­ple caramelized pork, canh chua (sour fish soup) , döa chua (pick­led veg­eta­bles), chaû laù loát (fried minced pork wrapped in lolot leaves). I want to cor­rect the per­cep­tion of Pol­ish peo­ple about Asian cui­sine. Be­cause here in Europe they kind of think that it is all about gar­lic, gin­ger and onion and adding soy sauce or fish sauce to ev­ery dish, and such things. But ac­tu­ally it's not. It's about fresh herbs, fresh prod­ucts and in­volves more tech­niques than peo­ple think of. In the fi­nal com- pe­ti­tion at Pol­ish MasterChef, both dishes I cooked were Asian. My am­bi­tion was to show more so­phis­ti­cated Asian cui­sine. Here in Poland there aren't many high-end Viet­namese restau­rants. And there is noth­ing at­trac­tive about them. They are just 'copy and paste'. They only have spring-rolls and phôû, and ev­ery­thing is some­how the same. For me it's very im­por­tant to show that Asian and Viet­namese cui­sine are more than those things.

In­ner Sanc­tum: Tell me about your fam­ily. How has your fam­ily kept Viet­namese cul­ture alive while liv­ing in Poland?

I have a very big fam­ily here, I think it's one of the big­gest fam­i­lies in the Viet­namese com­mu­nity in War­saw. We meet ev­ery week at my grandma's house. We try to keep the tra­di­tion of shar­ing a meal at least once a day. Our big Viet­namese fam­ily is really close, and ev­ery­body knows ev­ery­thing about each other and it's really a Viet­namese thing. My fam­ily mem­bers also have a very tra­di­tional way of think­ing, too. I also come back to Vieät Nam ev­ery two to three years. It's really nice to visit the coun­try as a tourist. We of­ten tour fa­mous places across the coun­try. We eat at lo­cal restau­rants, not the high-end ones. I really love mieán löôn (ver­mi­celli with fried crunchy eel). We can't bring eel meat to Poland so I can't eat it here, I really miss it.

In­ner Sanc­tum: for the fu­ture?

I am in my last year study­ing fi­nance and ac­count­ing, so I want to fin­ish my bach­e­lor's de­gree. And then after grad­u­at­ing, I want to work in a pro­fes­sional kitchen first. I am also look­ing for­ward to con­duct­ing some work­shops on cook­ing. I'm look­ing to open a Viet­namese restau­rant here in a few years but it's really hard. You need to have so much ex­pe­ri­ence to open a restau­rant. VNS

What are your plans

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