Wednesday, 15th June 2016
5 dishes to test your bravery in Vietnam
The deliciousness of Vietnamese cuisine is no longer a well-kept secret, with people visiting the country returning with tales of the flavoursome dishes they have tried. While pho and banh mi are now widely known about, there are still a number of Vietnamese classics that travellers shy away from. Dismiss your preconceptions and jump right in – you will be rewarded.
Bun bo Hue
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the central Vietnamese city of Hue features in the name of this dish, but the regional speciality has been adopted by Hanoi and made its own. Pig knuckles, oxtail and pork all sit in a sweet, sour and spicy broth, but the element that really sets this dish apart is the portion of congealed blood found on top.
A steaming bowl of snail noodle soup may seem alien to us, but in Vietnam it is considered comfort food. While psyching yourself up for it, consider all of the accompaniments, including beef, crab or tofu and fresh greens that help to make the snails more palatable. The wine vinegar, tomatoes and pepper also mean that it has a complex and delicious aftertaste.
My ga tan
One of the strangest cooking methods you can imagine is used to create the perfect my ga tan. Firstly, the diner must choose between a regular chicken or the more expensive black-bone silky variety. The meat is packed into an empty drinks can with a selection of herbs and slowly heated, before being added to a broth, along with ramen noodles. Do not let the presence of the chicken’s head bobbing above the soup line put you off.
Mien xao luon
You may see large display cases of crispy eels just waiting to be added to dishes along the streets of Hanoi. One of the most popular of these is Mien xao luon, which sees it stir fried with noodles, bean sprouts and egg. If you would prefer your eel served with cucumber and herbs before it is tossed in with the noodles, then order mien tron. Alternatively, eel porridge is known as chao luon and is another local delicacy.
The concept of selecting a number of meats and seafood kebabs from a table and then barbecuing them yourself on a small personal brazier is an appealing one. The only issue is that none of the meat is labelled, making it something of a Russian roulette experience. You can ask the locals for an insight, but it might be best not to know. Cow’s udder anyone?