Cooking Up Distinct Flavors by Blending Two Cultures

Written by Darius Rubics

Cajun food is well known along the Gulf Coast in the southern part of the United States. This type of food is known for its unique blend of spices in seafood, sausage and rice.

But less well known is a much newer type of cuisine. It blends Cajun food introduced by French colonists who settled in Louisiana in the late 1700s and dishes introduced by Vietnamese refugees who settled in Louisiana after Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces in 1975.

Many of the Vietnamese who live along the Gulf Coast have created something new by blending the two cultures.

The Houston-based restaurant Crawfish & Noodles is one of many Cajun food establishments founded by Vietnamese immigrants.

Special blend of seasonings

Restaurant owner and chef Trong Nguyen makes boiled crawfish, perhaps the best known of Cajun foods. However, he adds something a little different to the traditional Cajun spices.

“We sprinkle that with Viet-Cajun seasoning,” said Nguyen as he mixed boiled crawfish with a blend of seasonings.

Similar to traditional Cajun boiled crawfish, Nguyen’s Viet-Cajun version includes garlic, onions and butter. But his crawfish also has Vietnamese spices. He attributed his knack for flavors to his grandmother.

“Back in Vietnam, my grandmom was a very great cook, so I have the taste (after) many years growing up with her,” Nguyen said, remembering helping her prepare Vietnamese dishes.

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About the author

Darius Rubics