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Mekong Delta Spice Collection


Chef Tu David Phu’s Favorite Vietnamese Spices

This collection pays homage to the Mekong Delta; a river that runs through [Western China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and last Vietnam] before ending its river’s journey in the South China Sea. And, historically, the Mekong Delta (in Vietnam) was the spice-trade pinnacle of the east, also known as the Silk Road.

Spices are essential to Vietnamese cuisine considering the aforementioned. They accentuate natural flavors of ingredients, giving them new characteristics. This is especially important in Southeast Asian cuisine as many common ingredients are shared amongst neighboring, and bordering nations. And the distinction that determines the Vietnamese palate, is sourcing the right varietal of spices and applying the correct technique. Here are my favorite, single-origin, fair-trade spices that I stock in my Vietnamese pantry. And for your reference see the related recipes below to learn how to cook with my favorite Vietnamese classics.

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About Chef Tu David Phu


Follow @cheftudavidphu and visit www.cheftu.com

Chef Tu’s Vietnamese-California cuisine began garnering press and accolades, first in 2016 with his weekly pop-up dinners “AN – a Vietnamese Dining Experience.”; then in 2017 San Francisco Chronicle named him Rising Star Chef. In 2019, he was a featured contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 15 and invited to host ABC’s Taste Buds: Chefsgiving which was nominated for a James Beard Award.

As a first-generation, Vietnamese-American, food justice comes naturally to Chef Tu, who finds opportunities to use the medium of food as a vessel for meaningful work from cooking with incarcerated men in San Quentin; to his role as co-executive producer for Bloodline, a film about his family and food prejudice; to being a community ambassador in Oakland and working with the Oakland Asian Cultural Center; to his advisory work for Real Food Real Stories to help democratize food injustices. Tu’s involvement with food recovery and the Zero-Waste Movement is something else he got from his mother: During the Vietnam War, when supplies were rationed, she learned, out of necessity, that corn silk could be dried and used as a tea or toasted, deep-fried, or sautéed to serve with rice. Chef Tu not only applies these Zero Waste principles in his own kitchen but he is also a James Beard Smart Catch Leader, recognized for promoting the use of sustainable seafood options; and an avid teacher, sharing the riches and lessons of his birthright through food.


Sun Dried Star Anise
  • Sun Dried Star Anise
  • Padang Cassia Cinnamon

For over 3,000 years, this stellar—get it?—spice with a pleasingly medicinal, sweet-licorice flavor has been cultivated in Bac Ninh Province, east of Hanoi in North Vietnam, only making its way along the tea route in Europe during the 1500s. Star anise grows on evergreen trees that flourish in the region’s climate of steamy monsoons and cold winters. During the bi-annual harvests, locals climb the trees to retrieve the green fruit (spring yields smaller star anise without seeds while fall’s seed-bearing fruit is larger and more fragrant), which is then sun-dried for one hour a day—usually mid-morning—for five days, just long enough to burst the seam of each “petal,” exposing a flavor-concentrated seed.

In the misty Kerinci Valley of Sumatra, Indonesia, near the city of Padang, cassia cinnamon trees grow in regenerative forest plantations long established in the fertile, volcanic soil deposited by the ancient eruptions of nearby Mount Kerinci. Generations of farmers have been harvesting cassia—fiercer in flavor than its more delicate cousin ceylon—every 10 years by stripping the tree bark on location for maximum freshness. Then, on sleds pulled by buffalo through winding backwoods trails, the fragrant raw material makes its way to our fair-trade-certified organic farm to be sun-dried and ground.

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How old are these spices?

We purchase what we need every year right after the spices are harvested. These spices are as fresh as you can get. They are not sitting in a warehouse for multiple years. The oldest spices we carry will be one year old compared to the commodity market which warehouses spices for 10+ years before selling them to you.

Are these spices certified organic?

Unfortunately we do not have any certifications at this time but most of our spices are organically grown and all of them are non gmo. Each ingredient can be traced back to its origin. Email support@spicetribe.com for any questions.

Do you have recipes to go with these spices?

Yes! We have an ever expanding recipe library of chef tested recipes. Click here to learn more. Please shoot us an email if there are any recipes you would like to see at support@spicetribe.com.