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Taste street of Phu Yen

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 . Last updated Tue, 17 Mar 2015 16:25

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Phu Yen is a land of sun and wind, a land of forest and sea located in the south central coastal region of Vietnam. Traveling Phu Yen, visitors will have a chance to discover more about the local cuisine in Phu Yen.

Phu Yen province is home to numerous cuisines that have been rich to Vietnamese cuisine in general.  If I were in Hanoi at the moment, I would definitely go for a bowl a “Pho Bo” or beef noodle for breakfast. But now we are here in Phu Yen province, so we will have breakfast like Phu Yen residents. I am not sure about the origin of the dish “banh hoi long heo” or pork organs with “banh hoi”, but it is known as a popular breakfast not only in Phu Yen but also in central provinces including Binh Dinh and Gia Lai. This is rather unique because in this area, people eat “banh hoi” and intestine pork as two separate dishes. But here they eat them together and they got long along pretty well.

There are two ways of enjoying this dish. The first way, just simply take one rice paper, and then we add in a little intestine, a little bit of raw vegetables and of course “banh hoi”, and then wrap them over, dip it into the fish sauce and enjoy. In the second way, in a bowl, we add intestine, raw vegetable, banh hoi, several pieces of rice paper and then add a spoon of fish sauce, mix them well together and enjoy. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy a bowl of “chao long”. It is certainly not beautiful and delicate dish theoretically, but its flavor and aroma more than make up for its appearance. All ingredients on this table actually combined really well together.  This is crispness of pancake, toughness of rice paper, fragrance of banh hoi, especially, the protein of the intestine.  All can get a very delicious and nutritious breakfast.

Tuy Hoa market, the biggest traditional market in Phu Yen province is located in the center of Tuy Hoa city. Here you can find various delicious dishes at very reasonable prices.  Thach sam nam or sam nam jelly is a popular refreshing dessert in the region. People shopping here often stop by to have a cup of sam nam jelly in high summer heat.

Well-known for its drinking culture, Phu Yen cuisine has many special delicious dishes that attract food lovers and gourmets. One of the specialties is “bo mot nang” or one-sun dried beef.  People in Phu Yen just use the meat from the thigh and fillet if Phu Yen original yellow cows which have been raising in the grass fields of Phu Yen province. They do not use any preservative substance. They learnt the recipe of smoked beef from Ede ethnic minority people and then they re-created a new recipe for their traditional dish. After that the beef has been carefully marinated, we are now putting them on the racks to dry. We will dry the beef about 2 hours.

The stalls have replaced the old bamboo shelves which we use to dry the beef under the sunlight. The haft cooked beef is grilled over the charcoal and served with a special kind of sauce. They catch the ants from the forest. After cleaning, they roast them and add some salt and chilies to make the sauce. The ants have a kind of acid which is good for digestion. They also use “then len”, a kind of wild leaf to mix with ant sauce. These leaves will add a bitter taste for the sauce, which combines the pungent sour and sweet flavors. There is so many different ways to enjoy the delicious beef. This is just one way that the local people in Phu Yen often eat as a side dish.  The dried beef can be torn into small pieces and then mix with vegetables to create a special salad or serves with rice as the main dish.

Phu Yen has a long coastline with unlimited beautiful beaches and sand dunes which is an ideal habitat for the lizards. I follow Mr. Truc, is skillful lizard hunter to the sand beach to catch lizards. During summer, together with two Phu Hoa villagers, Mr. Truc, a secondary teacher has to the sand dunes and beaches to catch the lizards. The dry and arid land here is great for lizards which live in holes and small crevices. However, lizard hunters here have found ways to catch them. They have to distinguish between which hole is new and which hole is old. After winter when the weather is warmer, during January or February, lizards often come out of their holes to search for food. So they often catch lizards from then until August. Lizards may not look appetizing to some but it is seen as a delicious specialty in Phu Yen and other neighboring provinces as Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Vung Tau. The sweet smelling lizard rolls are accompanied with very kinds of herbs pineapple sauce.  Anyone who have never had a chance taste lizards are impressed by its fragrant and crispness.

Many tourists to Vietnam are impressed by the diversity of Vietnamese noodle. But there is one kind of noodle that not so many people know about and is actually a specialty of Phu Yen province. It is called “bun bap” or corn noodles. Not many people know about the place where corn noodle produce in Tuy An district of Phu Yen province, because they believe that this trade is long lost. However, thanks to the effort of Vo Tan Quan, a 29-year-old man, people in Nui Dat village can here the familiar sound of pounding corn again. He has a passion for this job and he want to restore the trade of making corn noodles. He has tried his best to learn this trade.  He wants to preserve the trade of making corn noodles for his homeland. The corn noodle trade was lost because they are difficult to produce. Another reason was that the profit of corn noodles was low. The price was too expensive so people didn’t buy them. That’s why the number of corn noodle makers has fallen and the trade has gradually been lost. We can use corn noodles with soybean sauce or fish sauce. We also use corn noodles in fish hot pot served with vegetables or sweet and sour crab soup, snail soup or chicken soup.

 Some restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City have asked him to work with them on long-term business, but his production is small scale due to the lack of equipment. More importantly, the number of orders is still limited. He just hopes to open a restaurant of his own and production corn noodles regularly. Quan continue to make corn noodles for full moon days or the beginning of the months to sell them to his regular customers. If you prefer vegetarian cuisine, you can use corn noodle to make a pretty tasty vegetarian food.

 If you visit Phu Yen, the 800-year-old Nhan tower, a symbol of Cham culture must be on your list destinations. It used to be a place to worship for the ancient Cham people in the late 11th and early 12th century. Today, there are no holy relics or statues in the tower, but it remains to be a symbol of Cham architecture in Phu Yen province and attracts tourists to come and admire. It í not very far from Nhan Mountain, you can find many stalls and restaurants serving different local delicacies. If you have to name the dishes that are very typical for the south central coast region of Vietnam, “banh canh” will be one of them. But in different area, people have been different way of cooking “banh canh” and they use different ingredients as well. Here in Phu Yen province we also have different way. “Banh canh” in Phu Yen is different from the other regions because local people use a lot of chives and fishes. Although in this region, “banh canh” is very popular and is loved by so many people. A bowl of “banh canh” is actually sold at a very reasonable price and people can find it almost every street around the province.

 

Source: VTV4 – VTV.vn

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