The 4 most famous specialties of Northern Vietnam
With the long historical development, Northern Vietnam has several unique local specialties that reflect the original cultural values. Each specialty tells us about the vibrant daily lives as well as the culinary characteristics of each land. Here are the most famous specialties of Northern Vietnam that you shouldn’t miss in your trip to these lands.
Green bean cake (Banh dau xanh)
Green bean cake
Emerging in the early 20th century, green bean cake is considered to be a pristine specialty of Hai Duong province. It’s greatly faulty to mention Hai Duong without talking about green bean cake that impresses the eaters by the fragrance and subtle flavor of the green bean. The sweetness of the cake is not intense but delicate and natural. To make the green bean cake, the cooked green bean will be mashed until it is silky, then mixed with sugar, pig fat for creaminess. In order to make the cake more aromatic, the quintessence of the grapefruit blossom is added. The cake is cut into small cubes, suitably served with the green tea. Nowadays, to follow the current trend in culinary, except for the traditional version, the green bean cake has several flavors such as green tea, durian, lotus seed, coconut, etc. Because of being a popular snack, the green bean cake occurs in the stores and supermarkets across the country.
Ha Nam braised fish
Originating from Dai Hoang village, Ly Nhan district, Ha Nam province, which is the setting of the famous novel Chi Pheo by the writer Nam Cao, the braised fish has the characteristic exquisite flavor that is nearly helpless to find outside this land. Dai Hoang is the lowland in the Red River delta when fish ponds are available. Therefore, the braised fish is a common dish for the residential, especially in Tet holiday (the new year celebration). The body of the black carp is braised with ginger, galingale, nuoc mam (fish sauce), sugar, lemon juice and several secret spices of the cook. The black carp must be fresh and weight around 4-5 kilograms. The fish is braised in the clay pot on the steady fire made from wood for 12-14 hours until the sauce becomes thick and remains a tablespoon. That is the time the braised fish has the distinctive taste of Dai Hoang village. The wood must be taken from the trunk of a longan tree. The wood from other trees is not accepted due to not bringing out the best flavor of fish. Moreover, Dai Hoang braised fish has a special seasoning that is the fermented crab water. Crab is caught in the field, then, crushed. The extract of crab is put into an earthenware vessel and fermented for about 3 months. In the days near Tet holiday, the villagers are busy with the orders proving the extraordinary attraction of Dai Hoang braised fish.
Ha Nam braised fish
Small steamed rice cake (Banh te)
Being a traditional cake, the steamed rice cake is quite popular in Northern provinces with several villages specializing in making this one such as Cho village (Bac Ninh), Phu Nhi village (Hanoi), Van Giang district (Hung Yen). However, the steamed rice cake of Hung Yen is considered to be tastiest. The rice cake is made of gao te (plain white rice), pork, shallot, and cat-ear mushroom. Firstly, rice is soaked in water for softness, then, it is ground and mixed with water until it turns into a thick watery mixture. This mixture is stirred continuously for about 3 hours on the light fire to make sure the paste is not boiled thoroughly. Pork, mushroom, and shallot are stirred together to make the filling.
Small steamed rice cake
The rice flour is wrapped with the filling in a banana leaf into a long thin cylindrical shape, tied with a string and then, is steamed for about 20 minutes. The cake has three layers. A layer of the rice flour is on the leaf, next to a layer of the filling, and then another layer of rice flour. After being steamed, the cake is silky and full of rice fragrance. The savory filling gets on really well with the rice flour. Moreover, the cake absorbs the natural subtle aroma of banana leaf. At first bite, undoubtedly, you can taste the wonderful flavor of the steamed rice cake.
Green rice (Com)
Green rice is the special dish reflecting the culinary quintessence of the thousand-year capital. Green rice is not rice dyed green but immature rice kernels. These kernels are roasted over low heat, then put into a mortar and are pounded by pestle until they become flattened. All the steps are made by hand with traditional tools. Green rice has a slight natural sweetness as well as the fragrance of immature rice.
Green rice is often stored in a lotus leaf to maintain the original flavor as well as to absorb the aroma of the leaf. Being the seasonal food attaching to autumn, green rice can be eaten instantly or used to make several dishes. The green rice cake is served as the traditional pastry with the batter made of the green rice and the green bean filling. Another interesting dish made of green rice is the savory green rice cake (cha com), in which green rice is mixed with ground pork. This mixture is divided into small pieces, then fried thoroughly, and served as the savory dish in the meal. Let’s try some green rice, which is one of the best things to do in Vietnam and feel the Hanoi soul in that.
Each of the above foods has its own distinctive delicious flavor, reflecting the cuisine life of every land. Why don’t you try green bean cake, braised fish, steamed rice cake, green rice and have the authentic culinary experience as the locals? Do not forget to buy some for your relative in your hometown. They will surely be pleased. Why don’t you take Vietnam package tours to get more information about how to travel through Vietnam. Vietnam is waiting for you.