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Taste of autumn in Hanoi cuisine

Tue, 23 Sep 2014 . Last updated Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:49

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Hanoi is well-known for not only beautiful landscapes and unique works but also diverse cuisine. The journey taste autumn in Hanoi will give tourists the chance to taste the delicious and wonderful dishes of Hanoi cuisine.

I come to the field outside of Hanoi to learn more about harvesting rice. When I look around the field, it reminds me of bread fields of Canada. But there is a sweet fragrance in the air. That’s because these ladies are harvesting young rice. The young rice harvest is done twice a year in April and August to make “com”, green young sticky rice. To prevent working in the hot sun, farmers must wake up early 4a.m to harvest rice. Only after their word is done, they take a small break.

I met Mr. Luyen, a son of traditional green rice family from Vong village. Every morning, he joins other farmers to harvest and pluck the grain to make green rice. Vong village is also known as Hau village, now is Dich Vong street, Cau Giay district, Hanoi. Vong village is well-known for a specialty of Hanoi with its own distinctive flavor.

Roasting is the first and most important step in making green rice. The roaster is the most important person. He or she need to manually press each rice grain. You need to press it until the grain is completely flat. Only the rightly roasted ones can flatten after pressing, if not the whole batch will be bad, and have to be thrown away. Even though there is modern technology to help with the green rice making process, much of their work is still very labor intensive. However, she and her family still enjoy their work, because they are only one of ten families that maintain the thousand-year- old tradition in Vong village.

Anyone can hear the pounding sound right when enter the village gates. At first, people would not know what the sound is. But after they do know that we make green rice, they can start to smell the sweet smell of young rice. The experience can be very exploratory.

“Com” is not eaten at home or on the street, but also is used in the special autumn menu of restaurants. The first dish is green rice spring roll. I have eaten spring rolls in Vietnam, but I have feeling this dish will be more special. Chef Hai has adapted his recipe to incorporate this special autumn in Vietnam specifically unique features of Hanoi autumn cuisine. The spring rolls are still the original spring rolls that everyone knows. But now, they added in some green rice, to give it a different flavor, to surprise their guests.

 

In addition, Green rice dessert is also a representative dish of the fall season. It’s cooling, light and fragrant. It’s a classic Hanoi dish. Even thought he did not put it on menu, chef Hai was going to show me the unique “xoi com” or green rice sticky rice.  

You can easily see and smell green rice sold by street vendors or sidewalk of Hanoi. For example, “sau” or dracontomelon comes from Hanoi just in autumn. This fruits are dipped in salt, sugar and chili. It creates the special flavors of the autumn, especially, during the hot season with the sunlight and wind. “Sau” marks the go-over of the summer and the arrival of the fall.

The appearance of street vendors selling lotus pod is sign of fall. Everybody knows when the lotus flower blooms, that means summer comes. But when there are only the lotus pods, autumn is arrival. I come to meet Mr. Hieu, the owner of West Lake lotus pond. Born and raised here, the lotus pond plays special place in his heart. That’s why he manages and preserves the pond. The lotus seed is nutty but green shoot is a litter bitter.  Today, you will know how to make a dish with grilled catfish and lotus pods. There will be a slight bitter taste from the pod. But once you get the bitterness, you will taste a light sweetness. You will remember this dish very well.

 

 Source: VTV4 – VTV.vn

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