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Journey of Vietnamese spices: Noni fruits in the Menu

Saturday, 01/14/2017 13:07
Most of parts from Noni trees as leaves, fruits, bark, and roots are useful since they contain natural drugs. In order to use this gifted produce up, chefs have researched and created to cook nutritious dishes from Noni fruits.

Noni trees and Noni fruits.

In Viet Nam, Noni commonly grow in humid zones and they are also farm raised mostly in the south. Some provinces in the Middle (Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Hue) and in Northern plain have also planted Noni recently. This tropical tree has many folk names, such as big Noni, mountain Noni, or wild Noni and its scientific name is Morinda citrifolia, which belongs to Rubiaceae species.

According to pharmacist Le Kim Phung, Noni fruit extract is effective on treating digestive dysfunction (diarrhea, intestinal worms, and nausea), dermatology, respiratory, and cardiovascular illness. Especially, Noni juice is a natural painkiller. Metz university (France) had studied and found that flavonoid in Noni juice could reduce pain about 75% comparing to morphine sulfate.

Similarly, Dr. Le Thi Hong Anh – Elite pharmacist, Vietnam Oriental Medicine Association – also gave more information about debut researches that Noni juice had contained selenium and damnacanthal, which were highly bioactive substances, and capable of inhibiting some types of cancer cells. Smashed noni leaves can heal wounds or acnes by directly applying on infected surface. Viet Nam and other Asian countries, such as North Korea and Japan, have use dried Noni fruits as herbal tea.

Noni fruits have a mild bitter taste while its leaves carry an acrid taste and ammoniac-like smell so it’s not many people’s cup of tea. Until noni had taken its place in culinary world, it is more commonly known as a nutritious ingredient. Tips of noni leaves can be eaten raw while bitter leaves are cooked in many ways, such as boiling (to reduce bitterness), stir-frying (with meat), steaming (as a bed layer for meat or fish), or making nutritious soup with eel. One special way to use noni leaves is to wrap chopped pork then to steam the whole thing with coconut milk. The medical advantages of Noni fruits have been taken to make delicious and nourishing food and some chefs even brought it into business with a menu full of Noni, including fish paste with Noni leaves, Noni tips salad with fermented fish, stewed eel fish and Noni leaves served with fresh rice noodles, and beef rolled Noni leaves in Noni sauce and vegetables.

Folk belief says that Noni leaves and seafood can foster health, reduce back pain and aches, and support bones. For examples, fish paste with Noni leaves was simply made by kneading noni leaves together with fish paste but it carried exotic taste. Another example was brewed eel fish and noni fish or beef rolled noni leaves, in which noni leaves were taken off main veins and blanched before cooking. With years of experiences, chefs had made noni dishes not only delicious but also nutritious.

Although noni is good and healthy, pharmacist Phung recommended, “Need to understand and carefully use noni fruits because its unpleasant smell can cause nauseous; overdose can cause digestive disorder, allergy and rash on skin, or headache.” Noni fruits have a mild laxative effect so it’s best to have after meals.

Team no. 18 (Van Thanh Resort)’s menu which includes four courses made from both leaves and fruits of great noni is generously introduced in the South Regional prelim of the Golden Spoon Awards 2016: fish cake with great noni leaf – great noni bud salad and fermented fish – stewed anguillid eel with great noni leaf and rice vermicelli – great noni cake and fruit chocolate.

By Ha Le/ Thanhnien

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