UNIQUE GASTRONOMY IN THE STONE PLATEAU
Traveling to Ha Giang, a part from the beauty of gigantic mountains and unique culture, you will be attracted by its diversified gastronomy that you could not forget even you try it once.
Tasty with steamed rolled rice cake with egg
This is a delicious food that no visitor ignores when traveling to this remote plateau in the far north border region of Vietnam. Method to make this cake is not much different from that in the lowland. A seller of steamed rolled rice cake with egg quickly coated liquid rice flour onto canvas surface of a pot, waiting until it was well done then quickly broke an egg onto the cake. She covered the lid and waited until the egg white was shrunk opaquely and adhered to the cake surface and the egg yolk was only done for part of exterior thin layer, then she used a flat bamboo stick to skillfully cover the done egg with such cake.
That makes unique flavor of this cake is to eat with a bowl of hot simmered bouillon. You can add some red chili powder, shredded ginger, hot chili or soured green papaw, a spoon of pepper and garlic fish sauce depending on your taste. Gently picking up a piece of hot and soft cake with chopstick and dip it into a bowl of sauce, you will feel either strange and tasty flavor, it is truly a good way to dispel the coldness of the cold mountainous region.
It is such a delicious kind of food that both adults and children are very interested in it. The softness of exterior layer of cake, moreish bouillon with flavors of salt, sourness, and aroma of spicy vegetable made me appetitive. Flavor from a dish of steamed rolled rice cake with egg was wafted with flavors of forest chili, forest red pepper which were very specific and only available in Dong Van stone plateau.
Deep flavor of mustard greens
When cold wind blows through mountain gorges, it is the time mustard greens blossoms on rocky hills stretching as far as the eyes can see. In spite of very cold weather condition, mustard greens still grow strongly to bring about an indispensable food in a meal to feast guests by local people in Ha Giang. Method to process mustard greens is very simple because it bears a specific flavor by itself. Local people in the stone plateau often manually pick each leaf to drop into a pot, then add some ginger and salt in the pot, by doing so, they get a warm and delicious dish. In winter, it is very pleasant after returning home from milpa and enjoying a hot mustard greens soup with ginger. Fried mustard greens is also delicious.
In January and February, mustard greens generate tall shoots and blossoms. Boiled mustard greens shoots are also very delicious when eaten with simmered soybean and men men, that is either warm and tasty. The soured mustard greens shoot is most unique. Shoots after being peeled, chopped into short pieces then put into a bag for about 10 hours to make them withered. Then mustard greens shoots will turn from green to yellow color, essential oil of mustard greens leaks out and a mustard greens food “appears”.
Salted mustard greens is not added with spices, it is only salted in cooled boiled water. Take a piece of salted mustard greens and dip it in a pepper fish sauce, and enjoy it, you will feel essential oil of mustard greens spreading in your body. Bite a fried piece of mustard greens, a hot flavor rushes into your nose, then spreads in your mouth very quickly. You will feel moreish flavor of mustard greens penetrating into your taste.
H’mong chicken – a valuable food of the forests and mountains
This chicken species is regarded as a local speciality by H’mong ethnic minority in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam. Chicken is raised in Meo Vac rocky mountains, Dong Van district. Its appearance is fet black, its meat is white yellow, mealy mouthed, and functional in treatment of arthritis and fostering human health so that price is relatively high. H’mong chicken can fly excellently and look for food in the natural environment so that its meat is firm and not fat.
H’mong chicken as a whole or chopped into pieces and put into a pot to simmer with Aconitum fortunei to make sweetness of chicken penetrate into rice, you will have a delicious food which could help releasing influenza. Local people in Ha Giang also have a unique food processed from H’mong chicken known as medicinal herb-cooked chicken that is very good for human health. In addition, chicken soup, roasted chicken, chicken steamed with spices from forests such as: talauma seed, white pearl onion, clausena indica leaf…bearing specific flavor that makes many visitors even gourmets admired.
The simplest way to fully feel the pure sweetness of H’mong chicken is to enjoy boiled H’mong chicken with red pepper salt and lemon leaf. Red pepper salt is grinded smoothly and added with some lemon drops and stir it until foaming. Take a piece of boiled chicken and dip it into a bowl of red pepper salt and enjoy it together with a bowl of corn wine, what could be better than that!
Unique Aconitum fortunei gruel
It is said that arrival at Dong Van without enjoying Aconitum fortunei gruel means that one has not yet been in the stone plateau, this shows how tasty this gruel is. In the mountainous province of Ha Giang, there are many medicinal herbs, one of which is Aconitum fortunei with pungent odour, it is effective for releasing influenza or soaked to massage human limbs.
Originally, local people cooked this gruel to release influenza, then it was added with some other spices and has become a speciality interested by many people. Method to process Aconitum fortunei is very careful. Aconitum fortunei is soaked in hog-wash over night, then washed and simmered with ordinary rice, glutinous rice and pig’s trotters for 4 consecutive hours.
Ladle gruel out into a bowl, break a chicken egg or duck egg or chopped lean meat, add some red pepper, onion, coriandrum sativum and perilla leaf to further improve its function in releasing influenza. The gruel is dark brown, flavored with buttery taste, especially a little bit bitter. The bitterness blended with buttery taste of Aconitum fortunei, sweetness of pig’s trotters and tastily rich flavor of egg, meat will bring about moreish flavor in your mouth.
In Ha Giang, aconitum fortunei gruel is only sold at night because aconitum fortunei, according to folk experience, is best functional via night sleep. Local people eat it as a light meal at late night to foster their bones, release tiredness and get a better sleep at night. Visitors enjoy with eagerness although they have not yet got familiar with such bitter flavor. The stone plateau is windy at night, sitting by the side of a fire and enjoying a bowl of aconitum fortunei gruel will be an unforgettable impression so that when you leave, it is still rememberable in your mind…
Collected by Khanh An
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