Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 15–20 meters. Pinnate leaves are 20–40 centimeters long, with 20 to 31 medium to dark green leaflets about 3–8 centimeters long. The white and fragrant flowers are arranged in more-or-less drooping axillary panicles which are up to 25 centimeters long. In Vietnam, Neem trees are grown popularly in An Giang province. Local people use neem leaves and flowers as medicines and foods. Every year from October to January in the lunar calendar, neem trees grow new leaves and blossom, An Giang people harvest the shoots and flowers. The Neem salad which is made from neem shoots and flowers is one of the specialty foods of An Giang province.
Ingredients for the amazing Neem salad are neem shoots and flowers, pork belly, dried snakeskin gournami (or dried snakehead), cucumber, green mango, pineapple, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, garlic, chili pepper, coriander, peanuts, etc. The tender and bitter Neem shoot is the soul of this salad. Neem shoots and flowers are poached in water to reduce the bitterness, then drained off. Salt should be added to the water when poaching to keep the leaves bright green and nice looking. Grill or fry dried snakeskin gournami until smelling and crispy outside, remove the bones, shred the flesh of the dried snakeskin gournami. Slice thinly cucumbers, cut pineapple into small triangular pieces, slice thinly green mango. Make a sweet sour salty hot dressing from fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chili pepper. Mix all of the prepared ingredients with the dressing, top the mixture with coriander and crushed toasted peanuts, chili pepper slices.
Neem salad is not only good-tasty but also nice-looking. In addition, this comfort dish is very rich in nutrition so that it is good for your health. It is a perfect blend of five tastes: bitter, sweet, sour, salty, hot tastes.
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