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Grilled dishes in Hanoi

Thu, 02 Oct 2014 . Last updated Fri, 13 Mar 2015 16:49

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In recent years, Hanoian is falling in love with grilled dishes or “mon nuong” in Vietnamese, especially in the cold weather. That is why grilled dishes become popular dishes among street foods of Hanoi.

When Vietnamese people think about grilled dishes, the medium on which really takes place is often coal. Coal can be used to grill anything; the most popular dishes are meats, vegetable and bread. They key to good dishes are the marination process. There are millions of ways to marinate grilled dishes. It’s just like people’s taste buds, different people enjoy different flavors, so grilled dishes are varied to suit those myriad of tastes.

“Nhang nuong” is the first stall offering grilled dishes in Hanoi 8 years ago. Even until today, it is still packed with people despite burning competitions. Its owner says the fish sauce is the key to attract guesses of the restaurant. There are 3 types of dipping sauce. The first consists of salt and chili, Central Vietnamese style. The second is soybean paste and chili, Northern style. And tamarind sauce, Southern style made from a tamarind, a fruit. The sauces come from 3 major regions of Vietnam in the hopes of pleasing every young person’s taste buds.

The grilled dishes here are focused on Vietnamese culinary culture. So its ingredients are also purely Vietnamese including herbs, ginger, lemongrass and garlic. And of course, the restaurant has sour fermented rice combined with turmeric. The most classic and popular meat of grilled dishes is pork lean and fat mixed grill. If you try “bun cha” or grilled pork noodles in Hanoi before, you will know the taste of this meat.

Eel has strong fishy smell so cleaning in the right way and using the right combination of herbs or spices are essential. That is not all; the meat of eel can be stiffened quickly. We only add a bit of sugar. The herbs we already added in are meant to enhance the flavors of the eel. But the oil will help keep the meat moist and tender. Once the eel is marinated in herbs and oil, we are now putting the eel into special grilling medium: bamboo log. We cannot slip the eel vertically through the top opening of the log because this is so that we can cover the 2 ends with aluminum foil, gill the eel on one side and pick out the cooked eel right on the grill itself through the side slit.

“Ngoi” is the next location to enjoy grilled dishes in Hanoi. Like its name, Ngoi offers a completely new way to grill. In Dalat, they grill foods on tiles as well. This was the first place that applied this grilling medium. The owner of “Ngoi” restaurant had to work closely with the tile maker to ensure that all harmful metals and chemicals are removed from the clay before it’s made into tiles. You will put the tile directly on the stove. According the owner, beef from heifer cow are enjoyed best on tile grill.

If you are big fan of grilled food and late night snacks at the same time, you cannot miss grilled dishes in Hanoi Old Quarter. Hang Bo Street gathers a lot of street side grill stalls which are normally opened very late at night from 10p.m up to 2 or 3a.m in the next morning. The grilled specialty in Hang Bo Street is squid, but not regular squid – dried squid. Squids are caught about 70 to 100 kilometers from Hanoi, sun-dried and brought to different parts of the city. Price of dried squid depends on its size. Here the grilled medium is again coal. But actually Vietnamese people at home often use alcohol to grill the squid.  Grilling squid has been the street’s tradition for over 20 years. The squid is low in fat and you can enjoy just one squid for a long time. Coal cooks the squid more slowly, and the squid won’t dry out as quickly as when cooked with alcohol. Stinging on the sidewalk of the street, enjoying very unique fragrance in the cold and a little bit rainy weather is the really relaxing feeling.

As eating grilled dishes has become such a popular trend in Hanoi, especially in the cold weather. Restaurant owners try to differentiate themselves from others in a number of ways. This is the only place in Hanoi serving clay grilled chicken. Trong – the owner of restaurant succeeded in creating dish 4 years ago. This is the clay for making the pottery. But it has to add a special spice. We have to add some salt water, which helps to keep the clay from cracking. We clean the chicken with salt. The salt helps to decontaminate the chicken. After cleaning the chicken, we spread syrup on chicken 3 times, and wait for it to dry.  Finally, we spread the bee honey. The honey will bring the sweet-smelling for the dish. When we wrap the chicken tightly, the dish will have a special fragrance.

After filling chicken with sticky rice and green young rice, we have to wrap it with three different layers including lotus leaves, paper and bamboo lath. Then we take clay out of the chicken.  We have to use firewood to grill the chicken. If we use coal, there would be noxious. We don’t use gas either. Traditionally we use firewood. The chicken is wrapped in clay, which helps keep moisture. When we burn the case, the chicken will be steamed. The chicken will be slow cooked with steam.


Source: VTV4 –

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