Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cong Nang Xao Tep (Stir Fried Young Chinese Water Chestnut Stems and Shrimp)--serves 3 as part of a shared meal


Củ năng translates to Chinese water chestnut in Vietnamese. In this region of Soctrang, Vietnam, my family enjoys eating the young tender stems. My cousins, Sieu Ken and Khai describe to me how people harvest these. The farmers cut these at the base and use a toothpick to split the center of the stems to get to the tender central parts. When you buy these stems you eat only the bottom 3 to 3 1/2 inches of the most tender cream colored section located at the base. It is best to use your fingers to pinch off the most tender parts into the lengths you prefer. The rest will be tough so most people usually discard them. I visited Sieu Ken and her daughter Linh in Soctrang and we made mostly food found in the countryside. These simple items are readily available in the market and happen to be our favorite type of food!


foods found in the countryside of Vietnam
(lots of vegetable dishes, braised pork and eggs,
and fried catfish with a ginger dip)
Linh--one of the most helpful
assistants in the neighborhood!
Ingredients:

2 Tbsp oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed (but not chopped)
1 cup peeled shrimp
1 kg (2.2 lbs) of cong cu nang (Chinese water chestnut stems), tender parts only, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch lengths, washed well
Salt, fish sauce, sugar to taste

Method:

1) Heat a wok or large pan over high heat. Once the wok or pan is hot add oil.
2) Add garlic, saute for about 30 seconds to a minute.
3) Add shrimp and saute until the liquid is gone. Put the shrimp aside.
4) Add chestnut stems. Saute about 5 minutes or until the stems are wilted to your liking.
4) Return the shrimp. Season with salt, fish sauce, and sugar to taste. Stir and turn off heat.

*I used about 1/4 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of fish sauce and 1 tsp sugar.

You may purchase these but you will need to put in a lot of
work to get to the central tender parts when you get home.
Buy extra since you will discard most of these!
I don't recommend buying these.
These are already quite cleaned and prepared.
All you need to do is save only the most tender parts
(which is the lighter parts) and discard the rest.
Wash well when you get them home.
If you can buy these you will have less work
to do in the kitchen!
pick out the most tender parts to eat
and discard the tough parts

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