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Flavor of Hue cuisine

Tue, 07 Oct 2014 . Last updated Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:52

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Hue is the ancient capital of Vietnam. The place is where Vietnamese royal culture condenses. The epitome of Hue classical culture is its fine cuisine. And the essence of Hue cuisine is its makers.

Hue women have used their soft and skillful hands for centuries to make food using most intricate ingredients from nature. The first ingredient is symbolic to Vietnamese royal culture is the lotus plucked when the early morning dew still leaves around the petals. Today, you will have the chance to experience the cuisine of old royal citadel of Vietnam. That is the central city of Hue. Here you are going to meet a woman who is known for being very well famous in the long tradition and history of this city. 

Mrs. Boi Tran is a painter and a local food craftsman. Now she is living in a traditional garden house on Thien An hill. This is the place where she shares Hue culture with other authors. The traditional house has 3 halls. The main hall is the house’s largest hall using for receiving visitors and holding important family rituals. As a painter, Mrs. Boi Tran was spent one hall for dedicating only to her paintings.  The traditional house is not only the place that helps her creativity in making art, it also the space for visitors comes and where she introduces cuisine of Hue to them.

Mrs. Boi Tran was born and raised in Hue. She eats and watches the making of food every day, so it came naturally into her subconsciousness. The food here varies depend on the seasons. It’s summer so there are some cuisines like “giam nuoc” which can only be made in Hue during summer. For dessert, they eat food made of lotus seeds, which is also available in summer only.

Tinh Tam Lake also known as Tinh Lake reminds people of a tranquil and peaceful place where ones can rest and their mind can be cleaned. The water of the lake is also amazing tranquil. It is why the lake is the appropriated place for lotus flower to grow. The flowers have their roof deep in the lake’s mud, only flowers and leaves stay above the water surface. When entering the pond to pick flowers, people often go by boats. The boat needs to be rowed by hands, as it is not to damage the flowers under the water. All flowers and their seeds will be picked.  Despite the delicacy of flowers, many flower pickers are men. Vietnamese people have a saying that men will be gentle to the flowers because in some ways, lotus flowers are like Vietnamese women.

To make lotus dishes, the first step in preparing the dish is to split the lotus seeds. The outer covering of seeds needs to be peeled off to reveal its yellow white interior. Similarly, the longan will be peeled out to only its flesh. The Hue women will carry out this step. The workers use the toothpick to remove the pit. This step helps to remove the bitter taste from the lotus seed and also save their pit for tea. The pited seeds will be placed inside the longan flesh and placed in the boiling pot of pandan leaves. The female cooks need to ensure the lotus longan combination is not overcooked. Otherwise, the longan will lose its crispiness.

 The main dish of the meal is lotus rice. The taste is created with Vietnamese pork sausage, egg and shrimp. There is another secret in the taste of lotus rice is lotus leaves. Rice is wrapped carefully in lotus leaf and taken to the steam. The complete dish is enjoyed by cutting the stem of the leaf to reveal rice.

In addition to the lotus dishes above, “Nuoc” is considered a specialty of Hue. It only exists in Hue. This nuoc looks very similar to common jelly fish, but it tastes does not like jellyfish, because nuocs are smaller compared to jellyfish, and they have small legs that are very crunchy. Cut the jellyfish into the pieces, soak them into salty water to preserve its meat. Peel the shrimp, cut onion and sprinkle a little on fish then marinate with salt, pepper and fish sauce. While waiting for that to infuse with spices, we are going to fly onion with oil, then add shrimps. When shrimps turn red they are cooked. Next, we will add some chili powder, ruoc paste and water. While we wait they boil, we cut up some bamboo and pineapple. After that we put them in the pot of water along with pineapple and bamboo, add some onion and cilantro, lettuce and banana flowers. Finally, adding the noodles, shrimp and fresh jellyfish. The dish is finished.   

After making these dishes of longan lotus soup and jelly fish sashimi, you can try another dish in Hue cuisine. That is five flavored shrimp dish made of lemongrass, onions, ginger, chili and lemon along with shrimp. The dish is very simple. You need to cut these ingredients, put them in a bowl and add shrimp with a bit broth. These dishes are enjoyed during the summer. In the past, they were cheers enjoyed by only the royal and ruling class. But now these dishes are used to treat visitors to Hue.


Source: VTV4 –

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