Vietnamese Food

Cuisine culture in Vietnam

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Someone asked me the other day what my favorite food was..."Vietnamese!" I quickly replied, "At least for the moment."

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Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea, referred to as East Sea (Vietnamese: Biển Đông), to the east. With a population of over 86 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous country in the world.

Some popular food of Muong region

Muong region has been probably one of the most favorite places for tourists recently. Discovering villages and daily life's activities seems to be interests of tourists. Yet, for many people, Muong's cuisine is still of great strangeness. Muong minority is not much finical in their cuisine yet each dish is their specialty, a great harmony between foods themselves and tones of the nature that only by tasting can tourists experience true feelings about their cuisine. Some typical dishes which may be offered to tourists by the locals are:

1. Burned-Boiled-Fermented pork

One of Muong minority's habits is to leave their pigs unbridled, eating forest vegetables, drink water from springs. Hence, pork here is very good and flavored. Once they want to slaughter pig, they have their pig burned to get rid of hair and then thoroughly washed, disembowel to take out viscera without rewashing the pig, and hang it up to dry out. By following that procedure, pork will not go bad and can be kept for long time without being tainted. Pig's trotter is then boiled to enjoy with toasted salt and grilled and ground "dổi" seeds. This is really a simple and popular way of preparing this dish but of great flavor with strong taste of toasted salt, sweetness of pork and aroma of toasted "dổi" seeds.

Another kind of preparing pork is to leave it fermented with yeast made of forest leaves in compliance to a particular formula that bring about fat taste of skin, sour taste of fermented pork and you may want to enjoy this dish many times.

2. Broiled fish and upland rice

Fish, one of popular foods taken from Da (Đà) river, is skillfully prepared to be delicious dishes by Muong females. Fishes such as carp, catfish, and Aphyocypris are normally broiled. Sticks are used to get through fish's body and fixed with bamboo clips to avoid being broken and at the same time to get good flavors of fresh bamboo, dusted with salt and wrapped with banana leaves, then stewed to enjoy. Combination of fresh bamboo's flavor, banana leaves, saltiness absorbed into the fish really makes this dish unique. It would be hard for tourists to forget Tay Bac's flavor by means of this dish once it is had with bamboo-tube rice.

3. Grilled chopped meat wrapped with pomelo leaves

Like other kinds of grilled chopped pork, yet the Muongs has their own way of preparing this dish to make it healthy: to grill pork with pomelo leaves. Half fat and half lean meat is cut into small pieces, soaked with fish sauce and onion. Pomelo leave is cut into halves and then pork is wrapped with these halves, fixed by bamboo clips, broiled on live charcoals till pomelo leaves turn violet. It is time for pork to be done inside of pomelo leave. Grilled pomelo leave is had with broiled pork as herbal vegetable with its bitter attar to help both reduce feeling of being tired of fat taste and bring about good digestion.

4. Buffalo's meat cooked with "lồm" leaves.

This dish is much like a kind of soup made of buffalo's meat which is very popular to the Muongs in Hoa Binh (Hòa Bình). The meat is burned to be yellow and then steamed in bulk to become tender, then sliced into small pieces, stewed in a earthen pot with some "lồm" leaves - a kind of forest leave with typically sour taste and broken rice. The dish is pretty condensed due to broken rice and with sour taste of "lồm" leaves to bring about very special favor to enjoyers.

5. Bamboo sprouts

Bamboo sprout is one of typical dishes of the Muongs in particular and Northern people in Vietnam in general. Normally in November or December, young bamboo sprouts just begin to show with very typical bitter taste are dug to be grilled and then had with "chẩm chéo" - a kind of sauce made of toasted salt, grilled "mắc khén", ginger leaves, ground garlic and chili. Once its season comes, fermented bamboo sprouts steamed with chicken gives a very special and delicious taste.

6. Colored steamed sticky rice

Steaming sticky rice with various colors made of leaves may bring about very natural tastes. Once rice is well-done, people often mix up colors to get a combination of flavors to ensure deliciousness and nutrition since it contains lots of folk medicines taken from leaves.

7. "Rượu cần" (wine enjoyed with pipes from jars) 

"Rượu cần" is actually a special kind of drink that anyone who visit Muong region wants to taste. Muong minority are so hospitable that they bring the best "Rượu cần" to offer their guests. Like other kinds of "Rượu cần" of Thai and Tay Nguyen minorities, "Rượu cần" of the Muongs is also made of yeast of forest leaves, upland rice and preserved with rice husk. To enjoy this kind of wine, people keep pouring into jars of wine with boiled or mineral water so that jars are always full of wine. During parties, people cluster round one another enjoying sweetness and passion of "Rượu cần" while enjoying sounds of gongs in a space which is full of atmosphere of festivities.

Vi Nguyen


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