Monday, April 18, 2011

Saigon Cinnamon

     Last week while waiting for my son's Tae Kwon Do class to end, I spotted an acquaintance in the crowd of Moms who were also waiting:  my friend, Tuyen. I hadn't seen her in quote some time, and it was a surprise to find out her son was enrolled at my son's TKD school. We embraced, and as I drew close, I smelled the most amazing, delicious smell. In the crook of her neck was a heady, rich fragrance of cinnamon and flowers. After we parted, I remarked on her heavenly perfume. She said she had just come back from visiting her family in Vietnam, and had brought back a bottle of a popular Vietnamese perfume that is scented with Saigon Cinnamon. Before catching up, she told me about Saigon Cinnamon ( and cinnamon from Vietnam ) being the best in the world, the richest and most luxurious and I had to try it.

Saigon Cinnamon is the common name for a genus of cinnamon trees found mainly in central and Northern Vietnam that produces cinnamon with the highest concentration of cinnamonaldehyde, the natural chemical which gives cinnamon its unique and instantly recognizable taste. It is an essential ingredient in the making of pho, the classic Vietnamese noodle soup.

     According to Tuyen, when buying Saigon cinnamon,  make sure to buy it from a reputable vendor. As it usually is among the highest priced cinnamon you can buy, less than scrupulous vendors can cut the Saigon cinnamon with "regular" cinnamon to make more money. The oil concentration in real Saigon cinnamon is so high, spice buyers often will set fire to a stick before purchase, to ensure they are actually getting the real thing and not "regular" cinnamon which in rolled bark form will not burn easily.

      Most cinnamon you buy here in the States is mostly from Indonesia and called Korintj.  Saigon cinnamon has double the amount of volatile oil of Korintji. The volatile oil cinnamonaldehyde is what delivers the flavor and aroma — higher content means greater intensity.

      As Clean Eaters, we are often given to using spices and herbs to enhance our foods. This weekend I will be headed to my local Penzey's shop to buy myself a bottle of Saigon cinnamon. I can't wait to try it and compare it to my regular, off the shelf Korintji cinnamon I have been using.I use cinnamon liberally in oatmeals and hot morning grain cereals, and on my sweet potatoes.

Link to purchase Saigon cinnamon:

Williams Sonoma : Sagon Cinnamon

My Spice Sage: Small dose to Bulk buying Saigon Cinnamon

Penzey's : Saigon Cinnamon