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Mjx

What did I EAT?! Purple, Wobbly... Vietnamese?

35 posts in this topic

Yesterday, as I was trawling one of the local pan-Asian shops for black vinegar, I noticed these bright purple and green things, sitting on one of the shelves, next to the sushi mats and MSG. They were simply wrapped in cling film, and their colours really stood out. I gently prodded one: gelatinous; warm. I finally asked one of the women in the shop what they were (they had no labels), and I was told that they were made with what sounded like 'blé' (awfully close to the Danish word for 'nappy', but I assumed she meant the French for 'wheat', unless there is some Asian-language word that sounds like this..?), and flavoured with 'blomst', (flower).

I'll take a chance on sweets where I would be reluctant to tackle something savoury, and anything gelatinous speaks to me. So, I got a purple one.

Behold (poorly focused mobile phone picture, unfortunately):

PurpleBlobB.JPG

The purple portions were gelatinous, and the white layers were starchy. It didn't taste of anything particular, but it wasn't a horrible experience by any means, and I'd love to have a version that involved actual flavour.

Since they were warm, I'm guessing they were made by the shop owner, which suggests they are part of her culinary heritage. In-depth investigation of this was precluded by the fact that neither of us spoke very extensive Danish (and we had no common language). The shop is called Minh Áhn, which I believe is Vietnamese, but I'm far from certain.

Anyone have an idea of what it is, where it comes from, and how it is made?


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Looks to me like a Vietnamese agar jelly, which are often consumed more for texture than rich flavor.

Your comment sparked an immediate online search for "Vietnamese agar jelly". This turned up masses of images of gorgeously coloured and wobbly sweets, so regardless of whether or not this thing was an agar jelly (the gelatin part didn't seem as clear as most of the jellies I saw online), I've got to thank you for introducing me to this. Don't know how I missed it, up to now.

i think it's probably this thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A1nh_da_l%E1%BB%A3n

if it is i hope knowledgeable members could help further.

Might be; that green definitely looks like the colour of the green ones, and the surface has than 'skin' look. Purple from the magenta plant?

This definitely calls for further research.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I lived near Little Saigon in San Diego for many years and I have to agree with ChrisTaylor: Those jellies are...meh. I never found one that I said, "I really need to stop off and get some more of those on the way home!"

When you said it was "starchy", did you mean like mochi? The white layers look like rice flour paste.

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Why would one make something with no flavor? If you're going to make something for the texture, why not make it taste good in the process?

It also seems odd coming from a cuisine that uses pretty bold flavors most of the time.

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Why would one make something with no flavor? If you're going to make something for the texture, why not make it taste good in the process?

It also seems odd coming from a cuisine that uses pretty bold flavors most of the time.

I would guess that "no flavor" and "taste(s) good" are in the cultural tastebud of the beholder.

eGullet member #80.

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This seems right in line with the Vietnamese che. I often purchase the ones as shown in the plastic cups and they are barely sweet, and though there are usually 4 or 5 types on offer, the underlying theme is contrasting textures; beans, corn, banana, tapicoa pearls, agar shreds, and the like. I was told they are meant to be served over crushed ice but they have a certain appeal on their own when lukewarm right from the shelf. I think one has to erase the Western dessert concept and think of them on their own as an interlude of taste and texture.

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. . . .

When you said it was "starchy", did you mean like mochi? The white layers look like rice flour paste.

More 'pasty' than mochi, I'd say. Kind of yelled 'starch starch starch!', if that makes any sense.

This seems right in line with the Vietnamese che. I often purchase the ones as shown in the plastic cups and they are barely sweet, and though there are usually 4 or 5 types on offer, the underlying theme is contrasting textures; beans, corn, banana, tapicoa pearls, agar shreds, and the like. I was told they are meant to be served over crushed ice but they have a certain appeal on their own when lukewarm right from the shelf. I think one has to erase the Western dessert concept and think of them on their own as an interlude of taste and texture.

Those remind me of the herbal jelly with the large, dark tapioca pearls that I rush to get at Saint's Alp, every time I go back to NYC (sometimes, straight from the airport).

And definitely, Asian gelatine desserts are mostly about texture, a texture I happen to love, but since the ingredients involved are often such blank slates, it would be interesting to add something(s). I'm thinking more interms of aroma than flavour (although a bitter or sour note could be interesting with the mildld sweetness), layers of, say rose and cacao, or citrus and orange blossom might be. Or coffee and coconut cream.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Oh, okay. That sounds more like tapioca than mochi. Vietnamese food always puzzles me. I love it, but I can't figure out what half of it is made of, how to pronounce it or how to cook any of it.

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That looks very interesting! I wonder what kind of delicacy is that. We had some of those that looks similar to that here in Manila but I'm not sure if it is really what it is.

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If you try to Google, "Kutsinta" you will see an image of an orange brownish food that looks similar to that.

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that is cool.. I just picked up the green leaf version on the weekend at the asian supermarket here. this one had more flavour than usual because they used coconut milk,creme in it . I actually really like the texture, but my wife is quite put off by it.


"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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Actually went back to the shop again to day, and asked the woman who keeps the shop what it was called; I was told 'coconut cake'. I asked for the Vietnamese name, and she just laughed and shook her head. I'll crack this one yet.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Look up banh da lon on google.

It seems a likely candidate (BonVivantNL mentions it, upthread), and I was hoping that if I just asked for the name of this sweet today, it would clear that up, but for some reasone, she declined to say. I toyed with the idea of trying to say 'banh da lon', but had doubts about getting some of the more forcible sounding vowels pronounced correctly, and had visions of the shopkeeper rolling about on the floor, convulsed with laughter. So I chickened out.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Good lord, banh da lon has its own facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/B%C3%A1nh-da-l%E1%BB%A3n/112681152076156

Maybe the shopkeeper didn't want to possibly offend you by translating the name? (pig skin cake)

Heck, I would have been fine with (in fact was trying to get her to tell me) the Vietnamese name. I'm guessing she felt embarrassed, which I can definitely relate to, so I didn't press it. In Denmark, the name wouldn't be likely to be regarded as offensive (major pork producer).

I need to get the ingredients together, and start experimenting. If I can get my hands on some decent rose water, well, I've been a little obsessed with trying a cacao and rosewater version of this.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I had a green one yesterday, DELICIOUS!


Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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