VIETNAM: FINDING SLIVERS OF PINK-BREAD SILVER LINING IN THE CORONAVIRUS DARKNESS

CHARLOTTE TRUONG WRITES – China is Vietnam’s largest market for agricultural and aquatic products, accounting for about 27% of total agricultural and fishery exports each year. According to the United Nations Comtrade database on international trade, during 2017 Vietnam exported US$35.39 billion from China. But now, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, Vietnam decided to close the border with China. This means that the export of agricultural products, especially the dragon fruit trade between Vietnam and China, has been suspended.  

Decreasing demand and closing transactions have pushed many Vietnamese into selling these products domestically, and at very low prices. The red dragon fruits have now reached their lowest price, and are being sold at 6,000 VND/ kg, instead of 40,000 VND/ kg. So now, as a “bright spot” in dark days, a campaign to rescue Vietnamese agricultural products has emerged.

The founder of ABC Bakery stores, the Ho Chi Minh City-based chain throughout Vietnam, Mr. Kao Sieu Luc – the “bread king” – has cooked up a new recipe called ‘Pink bread’ or ‘Dragon Fruit Bread,’ which replaces 60% of the water in the dough with the ingredients of a dragon fruit smoothie. For about 400 loaves, the pink bread recipe includes: 25kg of flour; 14kg red flesh dragon fruit (shell removed); 4.5kg of water; 625gr fresh Lesaffre yeast; 500gr salt; and 125gr Puratos S500 additives (optional). Cake weight is 120gr / loaf before baking. The exterior loaves are scanned with a special layer of spice to make the crust more delicious. (Perhaps you should not try this at home!)

The result is bread that is truly bright, with a unique pink color and a wholesome, delicious aroma. The dragon fruit flavor does not overpower the taste of traditional bread but adds a subtle hint of floral fruitiness.

Pink bread is trendy now because it is both new and affordable. One loaf of pink bread costs only 6,000 Vietnam Dong, about US $1.30. Every day, people wait in lines 20 – 30 minutes, just to get bread, although the chain quickly ramped up production so as to make 20,000 loaves per day. Still, the supply cannot meet the large demand, so each customer is limited to buying 5 loaves at a time. 

Pink bread is not only a creative invention, showing how Vietnamese cleverly adapt to the economic fallout of coronavirus – it has become a social media sensation, including online blasts of pictures and news about this remarkable new food product: legitimately flavorful, dragon-fruit infused bread with a perfect, crusty coating for everyone to enjoy, even during these difficult times. 

 

 

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