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Cao lầu, Vietnamese noodle dish … well water and ash – Italian Cuisine


The cao lầu is a Vietnamese dish from the province of Quảng Nam based on rice noodles cooked in a special local lava water used for cooking which gives it a unique flavor and consistency.

In the world there are traditional local dishes and drinks which, due to the particular ingredients used, cannot be faithfully reproduced in other areas. For example, analogous to the purple tea of ​​the Azores Islands whose taste and color are the result of the mineral water used coming from the thermal springs, in Vietnam there is a dish that owes its characteristic taste and texture to the local water used for cooking. Let's talk about the cao lầu, a delicious rice noodle dish served with meat, vegetables and broth, whose noodles are previously soaked in water from a well in the city of Hội An enriched with ash from wood from trees.

Recipe and original preparation of cao lầu

This very special dish comes from Hội An, Vietnamese city in the province of Quảng Nam, on the south coast of the country. His recipe includes culinary techniques typical of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cuisines and rather easy ingredients to find in other areas. The cao lầu is indeed a rice noodle dish rather thick, similar to Japanese soba, moistened with a small amount of broth and served with a garnish of pork, stewed or fried and chopped or sliced, leafy vegetables, blanched bean sprouts, various herbs and small rice croutons. Although the recipe may seem simple, it actually takes a long time to prepare. The true secret of cao lầu however, as we have seen, lies in the unique ingredients. The noodles are in fact mixed with thewater rich in alum from the ancient Bá Lễ well of Hội An enriched with ash obtained by burning wood from a tree that grows on the nearby Cham islands, about 20 kilometers from the coast. After the noodles are immersed in this prodigious water, which makes them gummy, elastic and yellowish, they are processed to a length of about 10 centimeters and a width of 0.5 millimeters, to be then washed, boiled and cooled under the banana leaves. With a part of their dough, little squares are made that are fried and used to complete the soup and to give it a little crunchiness.

The cao lầu of Hội An between past and present

In short, it is only in Hội An that it is possible to taste the traditional and authentic form of cao lầu. In this charming and ancient coastal city of about 150 thousand, perfectly preserved and whose historic district characterized by French colonial architecture, canals and wooden shops has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1999, a time like today the merit of the preparation of this dish goes to one family. For four generations these chefs have been perpetuating tradition with dedication, technical skills and with a process that is as faithful as possible to the original.. The family currently no longer draws from the ancient well,

but draws water from a new well built well that produces water with similar properties. Even the ash used no longer comes from wood from the Cham islands, but from very similar local trees.

Nowadays cao lầu remains the main specialty of Hội An, present in all restaurant menus, but it is not always easy to find the original version, especially in tourist restaurants along the coast. The best solution, which many Vietnamese use, is to buy it from the many street vendors, at the affordable price of less than $ 2.

Photo: Cau Lau Noodles Vietnam_Flickr_by ElCapitan.jpg
Photo: Cao_lầu noodle Vietnam_Wikipedia Commons_ansieee.jpg
Photo: Cao lầu_Flickr_Premshree Pillai.jpg

Blue water, clear water … also for boiling and frying – Italian Cuisine


"Water that does not expect … water that breaks the mountain … water that has made evening and now retires" sang De Andrè. Water to quench their thirst, to purify themselves and, finally, to cook, the mother of all the raw materials that, nevertheless, does not always receive the attention it deserves. It all starts from there.

THE'attention to drinking water it starts to be very tall and is full of waters of all kinds. But when it comes to make a batter, stretch a broth or use it to boil so here is that the water becomes unique and generic, as if it were the same thing. Mind you, those in the trade obviously know how important its majesty is to water, but information on the ideal water for cooking has not yet been sufficiently disclosed.

In steaming, for example, quality water is essential since the undesirable elements present in the tap water (flavors, odors, limestone …) are transferred and absorbed by food, while in the boiled cooking with refined water means that the meat fibers become softer, tastier and more digestible. Even the water with which vegetables are washed is essential and must be filtered (possibly).

173014Last but not least sometimes we need bubbles, capable of guaranteeing perfect fries: the recipe for a light and delicate but at the same time voluminous batter seems to be water at the maximum gassing and at a degree of temperature.

And yet in a society that pays attention to the quality of raw materials, zero km, biological, biodynamic and healthy food, there is not (not always at least) due care towards what is the most important ingredient, the primigenial. Not to mention that sometimes it is even a protagonist ingredient, like water cake. And when it is not, it seems to contribute not just to the yield of a recipe. True or not anyone who has heard what is said about the focaccia di Recco or the Neapolitan pizza. Or even on mayonnaise. In short, there are rumors that the secret lies in the water. Just an addition, as long as it's quality, and it makes the difference.

173017Let's start by saying that the ideal water for cooking must be crystalline and poor in salts, but above all he must know how to play an ancillary role, knowing that he is not a prima donna but also knowing that he is the so-called conditio sine qua non; Its task is difficult because it must enhance itself by remaining neutral, without removing or adding flavor. Instead, it must exercise the discreet and balanced task of enhancing the natural taste of the ingredients, without being the protagonist. In addition to the organoleptic aspect of the water, we therefore need the correct temperature and the so-called carbonation perlage. Remember then that sometimes the trick is in the water that would otherwise be thrown. An example for everyone? Artichoke water.

Emanuela Di Pasqua,
April 2019

DISCOVER THE COOKING COURSES OF SALT & PEPE

The bread made with sea water arrives – Italian Cuisine


It is low in salt and contains three times magnesium, four times more iodine, plus potassium, iron and calcium. Now it is also distributed in supermarkets

It is prepared without the addition of salt, yet it is really tasty, because this bread is done with sea ​​water. The marine bread, already proposed by some Neapolitan bakeries, now also arrives in the supermarkets of the chain Sole 365. To produce it we use themicrobiologically pure sea water of Steralmar, a company from Bisceglie, the only one in Italy to supply seawater for food use, thanks to a patented purification process.

And the result is a special bread hyposodic, which offers many health benefits over the common one. As explained by the Cnr – Institute of Food Sciences, which has studied the properties comparing them with those of an ordinary bread, «it has a significantly lower salt content, equal to1.1 percent on 100 grams of product compared to the control bread which is 1.6 percent (the national average is around 2-2.5 percent) ".

Less salt is better

The taste and biological properties of common salt, sodium chloride, are mainly related to sodium, an essential element for the body, but for which, unlike other nutrients, problems of deficiency are hardly present. One gram of salt corresponds to 0.4 grams of sodium. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends a daily salt consumption of less than 5 grams, equal to 2 grams of sodium. Because an excessive consumption of salt determines not only an increase in arterial pressure, with an increased risk of developing serious diseases of the cardiovascular system, but also a greater risk of contracting pathologies such as tumors of the digestive system, osteoporosis and chronic kidney disease. The Italians, however, are still far from the recommended values, according to data from the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the Ministry of Health: the average daily consumption of an adult is about 11 grams for men and 9 for women.

Important minerals

Sea bread is also particularly rich in essential elements for health, mineral salts and antioxidants: it contains triple magnesium, quadruple iodine, plus potassium, iron and calcium. Sea water contains 92 elements of the Mendeleev table, that is almost all those existing in nature. Refined salt, on the other hand, is deprived of many important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. The sea water also seems to facilitate leavening: this is another aspect that the CNR is investigating.