Growing up, my family cooked cá kho/braised fish the Northern way and it was never a favorite dish until much later. Northern style cá kho is ascetically simple and intense. Southern style cá kho is easier to like – the fish is more softly presented and embellished with a more prominent sweetness. When we experimented with adding tea (a typically Northern touch) to Southern style cá kho, we found that the flavors of braised fish and the fragrance of tea were well matched companions still. Using Japanese or Korean barley tea made for an even more intriguing dish with a novel taste while the tea leaves themselves can be roasted to form a crust on the fish filet, adding a new textural element.
Xôi (steamed sticky rice) is most commonly served as plain rice embellished with other ingredients but there are a small number of recipes where the rice itself is flavored by being soaked in plant extracts.
I was curious to see if that technique was generally applicable to any flavored liquid. As proof of concept, I wanted to see if soaking sticky rice in fragrant tea overnight would yield tea-flavored xôi. If successful, it would add innumerable possibilities to the long list of different types of xôi that already exists in Vietnamese cuisine. Continue reading to find out if the experiment worked