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Help identifying a Vietnamese ingredient!

p
phan1 Jan 27, 2008 07:20 PM

Hi, I remember this ingredient as a child but I've long forgotten it. It was in a place that specialized in serving Banh Cuon. They put out a small bowl of fish sauce just as in other typical Viet restaurants. Now the ingredient I'm trying to identify is a condiment that was on all the tables. It was a clear liquid in a small bottle with a dropper, and we would add some drops of it in our nuoc mam to help perfume it and lessen the "fishiness" of the nuoc mam. I THINK it's jasmine extract or something like it. Does anyone here know what I'm talking about?

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  1. septocaine_queen Jan 27, 2008 07:39 PM

    I had to search for it but I found it. Belostomatid, an essence squeezed from a particular kind of beetle. We used it in bun thang. I kind of hated the way it smelled because it didn't match the dish like perfume.

    3 Replies
    1. re: septocaine_queen
      p
      phan1 Jan 27, 2008 08:19 PM

      REALLY?!? Wow. Do you think we're talking about the same think here? This substance smells quite nice, like a soft perfume. The only thing I could compare it to is jasmine extract or maybe rose water. It's a stark contrast to the fishiness of nuoc mam.

      If you're still confident we're talking about the same thing, do you know how I could get my hands on some? Do they sell it at Asian supermarkets? I googled the substance and I can't find even a picture of the bottled product.

      1. re: phan1
        septocaine_queen Jan 27, 2008 08:38 PM

        The other name is Ca Cuong. You probably could get it at good asian supermarket. I remember the writing to be in thai. I also remember the dropper. Chances are the essence will be synthetic but it is all the same organic chemistry.

        1. re: septocaine_queen
          p
          phan1 Jan 28, 2008 09:01 AM

          TY very much! And I'm pretty sure I'll get the synthetic kind, as I hear the real stuff is very expensive.

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