The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam Cookbook Samples One of the Most Outstanding Food Cultures on Earth

Susan Yung wrote . . . . . . . . .

The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam was first published in English in 1979 (the French edition came out a year earlier), and it’s interesting to see how, apparently, the food was perceived by outsiders back then.

In the introduction, Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman write, “Anyone under the illusion that Vietnamese cookery is a mere variation of Chinese cuisine will discover what a fundamentally different style it has – and unforgettably different delight it is.

“A similar comparison could be made between French and Italian cuisine, each using many of the same raw materials with sharply varying techniques and, just as important, different flavourings and spices, with infinitely different results.

“As the four-thousand-year-old Chinese culture produced a cuisine world renowned for its exquisite sophistication, Vietnamese culture, zealously guarded and nurtured over the same time span, has given birth to a cuisine no less sophi­sticated. Craig Claiborne, eminent food critic of The New York Times, hails the Vietnamese kitchen as ‘among the most outstand­ing on Earth’.

“In France, the temple of haute cuisine, Vietnamese restaurants now far outnumber Chinese, not only in Paris but through­out the rest of the country, and the tide of discovery has moved across the Atlantic. Food-conscious Americans, both young and old, are now joyously discovering Vietnam’s delicate and beguiling food-making art.”

Ngo, who was born in Vietnam, and Zimmerman, an American cooking school teacher specialising in Asian cuisines, are justifiably proud of the cuisine, which is far more varied than the food served at typical Vietnamese restaurants abroad. At these places, without even looking at the menu, you know you’ll find fried spring rolls, fresh spring rolls (often called “summer rolls”), beef or chicken pho (above), lemongrass chicken, beef or pork (if it’s a fancy place, they will have lemongrass quails) and banh xeo (turmeric-scented rice flour crepes filled with vege­tables, shrimp and pork).

You can find most of those dishes in the book, but also recipes for bamboo shoot omelette, steamed pork, cabbage with meat and dried jellyfish, stuffed chicken necks cooked in coconut milk, beef simmered with coconut water and lemon­grass, crab stuffed with pork and cellophane noodles, barbecued beef wrapped in fresh rice papers, duck rice soup, boneless stuffed whole fish, stir-fried beef with cauli­flower and golden mushrooms, papaya soup with pork hock, and banana leaf cake.

Source: SCMP

Spicy Beef and Lo-bok Stew

Ingredients

1-1/2 lb rump roast of beef
1 medium-sized lo-bok (daikon)
6 servings hot, precooked rice

Seasoning

2 stalks green onion
2 slices ginger root
1 tsp hot bean paste
1 Tbsp black bean paste
1/4 cup soy sauce

Sauce
6 cups water
1/2 tsp chicken broth mix
1/2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp star anise

Cornstarch Solution

4 Tbsp cornstarch
4 Tbsp water

Method

  1. Rinse lo-bok, drain. Cut beef and lo-bok into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat wok with 3 Tbsp oil. Add seasoning ingredients in descending order and stir-fry until fragrant. Add 1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine and sauce ingredients. Place mixture and beef in a pressure cooker. Cook over medium heat for 25 minutes. (meat should be very tender)
  3. Add lo-bok and cook 10 minutes.
  4. Add cornstarch solution and cook until the sauce thickens.
  5. Place rice on serving plates. Spoon beef and sauce over rice. Serve hot.

Note: If you do not use pressure cooker, place sauce ingredients, wine and beef in a covered casserole and cook 1 hours over low heat.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Wei Chuan’s Cookbook

In Pictures: Food of Wing Lei Restaurant (永利軒) in Macau

Fine Dining Cantonese Cuisine

The 2020 Michelin Two-star Restaurant

Under 50 and Overweight? Your Odds for Dementia Later May Rise

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . . .

Need fresh motivation to lose some weight? New research suggests that young adults who are overweight or obese face a higher risk for dementia in their golden years.

For the study, the researchers looked at just over 5,100 older adults who were involved in two long-term studies. The investigators found that women who were overweight between 20 and 49 years of age had nearly twice the risk of dementia after age 70. And older men and women who were obese in those earlier years saw their risk jump 150%.

The finding builds on prior studies that have linked excess weight during middle age to an increased risk of dementia among seniors.

But the new research does not prove excess weight causes dementia, only that the two are linked, said lead author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri. She’s an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City.

“However, our study does suggest that adult life obesity is an important risk factor for dementia,” she added.

The participants were enrolled in two long-running studies of older people, one launched in 1988 to track heart disease and the other in 1997 to track declining function. Nearly one in five participants were Black and 56% were women.

Each study found cases of dementia. Hazzouri’s team used a computer model to chart each participant’s lifetime body mass index (BMI), a standard measure of body fat based on height and weight.

BMI status was broken down according to three stages of life: early adulthood (ages 20 to 49); middle age (ages 50 to 69); and late life (ages 70 to 89).

The relationship between BMI and dementia risk differed by gender and age, the analysis found.

For example, being overweight or obese in middle age did not appear to affect women’s dementia risk.

But men who were overweight during midlife saw their dementia risk rise 50% after age 70. And middle-aged obesity among men doubled late-life dementia risk, the study found.

Gender differences were also seen when looking at BMI during early adulthood. For example, being overweight during that time did not appear to affect men’s dementia risk. But women had no such luck. For those who were overweight between 20 and 49 years of age, dementia risk was 1.8 times higher after age 70.

In other respects, an expanding waistline had similar effects on dementia risk for both sexes. A higher BMI after age 70, for example, was linked to a lower risk for both sexes. And being obese during early adulthood caused dementia risk in old age to more than double for men and women alike.

Which raises the question: Does obesity in one’s 30s mean a higher risk for dementia is inevitable, or can getting in shape lower it?

Hazzouri isn’t sure. “Irrespective of a person’s BMI in mid- or late life, being obese or sometimes overweight (while young) is associated with a higher dementia risk (after 70),” she noted.

But Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association, said it’s all speculation at this point.

“We just don’t know exactly why being overweight or obese might raise dementia risk,” he said, noting that excess weight can have negative impacts on heart health and inflammation that may ultimately affect brain health.

“Overall, I would put this issue in the category of modifiable risk factors,” he said.

“Make healthier eating choices,” Fargo suggested. “Exercise and get that heart pumping several times a week. The more you can do, the better. And the earlier, the better. Because what your doctor and your mom have been telling you for decades about eating well and getting exercise is right — not just for your heart but also for your brain.”

Hazzouri and her colleagues were scheduled to present their findings during an online meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association. Findings presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay

Sustained High Blood Pressure May Damage Brain Vessels

Having high blood pressure for long periods may increase the chance of small vessel damage in the brain, which has been linked to dementia and stroke, according to a new study.

Scientists have long known high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can lead to stroke, and past studies also have connected it to Alzheimer’s disease. The new research, published Friday in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, zeroed in on how high blood pressure impacts cerebral small vessel disease, the most frequent type of vascular brain disease in people with stroke and dementia.

Researchers looked at data from 1,686 adults who were free of stroke or dementia at the start of the study. Participants were given periodic blood pressure measurements throughout mid- and late life, as well as brain MRIs to check different parts of the brain for cerebral microbleeding, the accumulation of small blood products in brain tissue, and dead tissue. Both are signs of cerebral small vessel disease.

The study found that the longer participants had high blood pressure, the more likely they were to have cerebral small blood vessel disease.

It’s the first time a population-based study has reported the link between long-term high blood pressure trends and the prevalence of cerebral small vessel disease in late life, said Dr. José Rafael Romero, the study’s lead author.

“Because (it) is the most common underlying form of cerebrovascular disease, our findings can help us tell who is at high risk for stroke and dementia, both of which are major growing public health problems.”

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., where nearly 6 million people have the condition, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That number is expected to more than double as baby boomers age.

In 2017, 6.2 million people worldwide died of stroke, including more than 146,000 in the U.S., where it’s the fifth-leading cause of death. About 46% of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure.

Those statistics show “a huge opportunity to intervene,” said Romero, associate professor of neurology at Boston University Medical School.

“We hope our study increases awareness both for individuals and for practitioners. If we treat hypertension early on, we’re likely to decrease the occurrence of small vessel disease and, more importantly, the occurrence of dementia and stroke.”

To treat high blood pressure, doctors often prescribe blood pressure-lowering medicines and recommend eating a healthy low-sodium diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.

Romero said he’d like to see future long-term research “that will fine-tune our treatment and find the best medications to prevent small vessel disease.”

Dr. Deborah A. Levine, who was not involved in the research, said even though the study used mostly white participants living near Framingham, Massachusetts, it is likely applicable to people in other racial and ethnic groups and geographic areas.

The results “are important because they provide evidence to connect the pathway between high blood pressure, cerebral small vessel disease and stroke and dementia,” said Levine, an associate professor of internal medicine and neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School. “Before this study, the link was hypothesized but evidence was lacking.”

The findings underscore the importance of getting your blood pressure checked regularly and treating it if it’s high, she said.

“Controlling your blood pressure is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of stroke and dementia. At a time when there are many medicines, specialists and doctors who can treat high blood pressure to ideal levels, there’s really no reason for anyone to have high blood pressure that is uncontrolled.”

Source: American Heart Association


Today’s Comic