Eggpiant and Baamboo shoots

  trai cau Raw, stir-fried, braised. pickled or salted, vegetables are worked into every meal in some manner in . Almost every dish includes a few vegetables but, in addition, there may be a vegetable side dish, salad, pickled vegetables, or leaves to wrap around the food. The main thing to remember is that a meal must be balanced with vegetables,protein and starch.Texture is also important, so "salads" might include such ingredients as fruit, meat, shellfish  and rice noodles.In the warm southern regions of Vietnam and the central lowlands of Cambodia, the growing season is long and abundant, providing the regional cuisines with a vast choice of indigenous, and adopted, roots and leaves for exciting vegetable dishes and refreshing, crunchy salads. In the cool , vegetables are more often steamed, stir-fried and preserved, borrowing traditional Chinese methods.And following ancient Taoist philosophy,some vegetables are believed to possess cooling "yin" qualities, others the warming "yang". It is thought that If these yin and yang forces are not
balanced, illness will ensue. This ancient belief is most prominent in the culinary culture of Chinese-influenced
northern Vietnam, where a number of Chinese communities still live.
   AUBERGINES/EGGPLANT Technically fruits, but eaten as vegetables, aubergines (ca tim) originally came to Vietnam and Cambodia from India and Thailand. Regarded as cooling,they are widely used in both countries. The most common aubergine is long and thin, in shades of pale green and purple. This is the most popular variety as the flavour is sweet with very little bitterness.Incredibly versatile, it is added to stews, curries and stir-fries so that the flesh absorbs all the delicious spices and flavours of the dish. It is often called an "Asian"aubergine and is available in Asian stores and some,upermarkets.When choosing,look for smooth, unblemished skin and firm flesh.Thai aubergines are also used in Vietnam and Cambodia.Round and firm, the size of a ping-pong ball,these streaky pale green and cream-coloured aubergines are usually halved and added to stews and curries. The tiny,green pea aubergines are also popular throughout South-east Asia. Literally the size of garden peas, these aubergines grow in clusters and have a slightly bitter taste with a pleasantly firm texture. In Cambodia, pea aubergines are added to spicy dipping sauces and curries.
   mang Dense bamboo groves are a common feature on the South-east Asian landscape. Technically a giant grass,bamboo has many important uses. The long, thin stems or "trunks" are used for making baskets, furniture and conical hats, as well as many kitchen utensils, such as steamers, strainers and chopsticks. The leaves are fermented and distilled to make a popular pale-green liqueur, and the shoots are harvested for their tender, delicious flesh. The small, pine cone-sized shoots (mang) that are dug up just before they emerge from the ground are very tasty.
  In Vietnam and Cambodia, the bamboo "trunks" are also used as cooking vessels. The hollow is stuffed with marinated pork, fish or chicken and placed over an open fire to cook.The long, narrow, pointed leaves have their culinary use too. Dried and sold in bundles in the markets, they are soaked in water until pliable and then used to wrap food that is to be steamed,imparting their own unique flavour to the dish.Fresh, pickled or dried, bamboo shoots are popular throughout Vietnam and Cambodia. To prepare the shoots,the sheaths are stripped off and the tough base removed. Once peeled,the inner core is sliced and blanched in boiling water for a few minutes, then drained and rinsed under cold water.The creamy-white, fresh shoots have a wonderful texture and flavour and are delicious added to stir-fries and soups. Dried shoots require soaking before use. When cooked, they should retain a crunch and taste slightly sweet. Fresh shoots are available in Asian stores, but cans of ready-cooked shoots, preserved in brine, can be bought in most stores.

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