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Local cuisine in Hue Vietnam

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 . Last updated Tue, 17 Mar 2015 16:28

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Referring to Hue Vietnam, many people often think of a long history and culture. Among them, the cuisine in Hue is seen as the most typical cultural identity of this city. Besides the royal cuisine, local cuisine also attracts tourists to Hue.

Thinking of Hue, the former citadel of Vietnam, people think of the typical weather here, rainy. Maybe that is the reason why Hue people always keep a fire burning in their kitchen by the way cooking the delicious dishes. Hue local cuisine is cheap and simple always made charm even the most fastidious people with their warm flavor and dedicated presentation. As the result, the special foods are an indispensable feature in Hue renowned as the food capital of Vietnam.

Hue city is renowned for the royal cuisine, but also another cuisine here that is very close to the life of local people is street food.  The street food in this city is very diverse. The first location, we are going to visit is a country vender store on the street, there is very well-known among the local people. 

Morning in Hue offers people fresh breezes from Huong River (Perfume River) and the good smell from the street food of vendor.  The special foods here are very diverse from noodles to rice cakes and different kinds of soup. Yet for some reasons simple dishes like rice porridge is still attractive visitors. This simmered fish includes many kinds of fishes such as scad, goby, shrimps and fat meat. The taste of dish is a little bit sweet and chewy. The rice porridge accompanied by chewy fishes is a typical dish of Hue people. Visitors, who come to Hue, want to try the typical dishes of Hue such as mussel rice, nam cake or beo cake. But Hue local residents often eat this rice porridge for their breakfasts.

The light purple red of Hue porridge comes from the rice grown in Quang Dien district in Hue. This red rice is renowned for its high valuable nutrient and the soft texture. The little goby fishes that are accompanied the porridge is also local specialty. Both the rice porridge and simmered fish are cooked for long time to reach the requirement of Hue cuisine. The rice porridge is a typical breakfast for Vietnamese people, especially in Hue city.  Though this is a popular dish for everybody in everyday, it is still something that is you have once ever tasted, you would never forget.

In hue, street food alliances are amazingly strong, cook and dinner realize on each other. Dinners often come to their favorite store. However, when having the chance to visit Hue city, you should not miss the chance to drop by any venders. It’s fun when you can taste the delicious and diverse dishes here.

The next place we are going to visit is Hen Islet or Mussel Islet. Hen Islet emerges just from the middle of the Huong River is connected to the city by an iron bridge. Many street vendors lived here and they commune everyday to the city to sell food. So this is the best place to find the cheap and good dishes. The river bottom is covered by mud layers and is home to variety of mussels, the famous specialty of this islet. Local people have been living by catching mussels for generations. A part of mussel caught in the river is sold in Hue market, the rest is made into delicious food.

I am visiting a mussel processing household in Hen islet. A special thing about these mussels of this area is that they are really small and so tiny that is the big difference from mussels anywhere else. And that is also the reason why the rice mad from mussels here is the best. Mrs. Chau Thi No, the owner is inherited this trade from her mother more than 20 years. What she does every day is soaking the mussels. The step stirring these mussels will help the meat of the mussels detach from the shell. You have to stir really strong to get all mussel meat. It is really a hard work. Then you sift the mussel meat. You have to stir the water so the mussel meat will fall out. The meat will float and we take it out. The mussel meat will be ingredient to cook Hen islet specialty. Besides the small mussels, there are bigger mussels, which are used to cook porridge. Rice making from mussels is dish that I could hardly imagine at first.  Just as cold rice left over from previous meals, but when it is mixed with vegetables, roasted peanuts, sesames, mussels and some spicy sauces, we have a delicious dish. I thought that mussel rice is a Vietnamese version of Paella, the Spanish famous dish. Just like the way Spanish people cook Paella dish, Hue people season their mussel rice to suit their taste.

Visiting Hen islet, you will have a chance to taste the original mussel rice. There are so many flavors in one small bowl of mussel rice as crisp, sweet, salty and spicy. The name of this dish has suggested its main ingredient including rice and mussels. But to have a great taste, you also need other spices. There are coriandrum sativum, Indian taro, onion and star fruit. These ingredients will bring the special flavor to the dish. According to Mrs. Hoa, vegetables in food used to make mussel rice should be very fresh because we are going to eat them raw.  The mussel rice has long been appeared in Hue. It is the traditional job of local people.

The most important step in making mussel rice is to prepare the mussel. First, we are going to add cooking oil to the pan, then fry the onion, add some spices. This step is not very difficult for you because it is easy to follow. Unlike other Vietnamese dishes eaten with hot rice, this dish is actually used cool rice. According to Mrs. Hoa, this is a tradition in Hue, the dish will actually taste better when eaten with cool rice. The mussel rice is quiet food for your health, not much rice, a lot of vegetables, and the refined taste. However the shrimp paste and some spices could make the dish had the strong flavor. Anyway, I recommend you should try it; especially you have a chance to visit the Hen islet.

After the mussel rice, the next dish you should taste and learn how to make is corn sweet soup. People in Hue say the best corn come from the fields in Hen islet. Here the alluvial soil from Huong River enriches local fields year after year. Local women often celebrate the corn season by putting corn into the sweet soup, and now it has become the favorite dessert of many people. Another ingredient used to make corn soup is pan leaves. Before adding them to the soup we have to clean. With this ingredient added, the dish will have a nice scent and a very good taste as well. After boiling the leaves, we take it out and put the corns into the boiling water. It does not take 10 minutes, the dish finishes. When the corn soup becomes viscous, we add sugar. Because the corn itself has the naturally sweet taste, so we don’t add much sugar or any kinds of sweetener.   After we put the sugar in, we just need to wait until the mixture boils again.

The final location in the trip discovering Hue street food is night market. Here young people and tourists enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Trang Tien Bridge and the Huong River at night. I come to the store making “keo chi”, one of the busiest places in the night market. Many Vietnamese and foreign tourists love this candy, especially children. The way to prepare the candy is exactly the same way people do the fresh noodle in noodle shops. We stretch the candy into the long threads twisted together. After that, we put it on a kind of rice paper, top with coconut, roasted sesames. Street vendors are no longer visible in many places in Vietnam. This old fashioned-candy was sooner replaced by people are more easily to by kinds of candy in modern shops.


Source: VTV4 –

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