Dong Thap, a province in Vietnam, is famous for its unique and delicious local specialties. In this article, we will introduce you to five Dong Thap specialties that will tantalize your taste buds and make perfect gifts for loved ones.
Lotus Stem Salad (Gỏi Ngó Sen)
A Dong Thap specialty, Lotus Stem Salad is a scrumptious dish made from the stems of the famous lotus plant. The lotus stems are cleaned, sliced, and mixed with spices like lemon, sugar, fish sauce, chili, and herbs. The salad is then combined with shredded chicken for an extra flavor. This appetizing dish is a refreshing, spicy, and sweet delight.
Sa Dec Rice Noodle Soup (Hủ Tiếu Sa Đéc)
Sa Dec Rice Noodle Soup is a popular and flavorful dish from Sa Dec, a region in Dong Thap province. The noodles are soft, non-sticky, and have a milky white color with a delightful aroma. The soup is sweet, savory, and light, making it an irresistible treat for visitors. When ordered, the chef adds noodles to a bowl, followed by minced meat, yellow sausage, liver, and other ingredients, topped with chopped green onions and cilantro before adding the broth.
Kitchen Rack Snails (Ốc Gác Bếp)
Kitchen Rack Snails is a rare and pricey delicacy in Dong Thap and the Mekong Delta region. Locals primarily use lac snails or apple snails for this dish. Lac snails are preferred due to their clean, crunchy flesh that maintains freshness even after months of drying. The snails are sorted, cleaned, and placed in a bamboo basket hung above the kitchen stove. They are then soaked in fresh milk and eggs to plump up their flesh and enhance their flavor. Finally, the snails are cooked in various dishes according to personal preference, such as steamed with lemongrass or grilled with pepper.
Lai Vung Fermented Pork Rolls (Nem Lai Vung)
Lai Vung Fermented Pork Rolls are another famous Dong Thap specialty, enjoyed by many food enthusiasts and often purchased as gifts. Unlike other fermented pork rolls, Lai Vung rolls combine the sweetness of fresh meat, the crunchy texture of pork skin, the sour taste of vong leaves, and the spiciness of green chili. Locals say that a delicious Lai Vung rolls must have the right ratio of 8 parts meat to 2 parts pork skin, be wrapped in vong leaves, and be tied with banana strings. You can find these rolls at various stores and eateries, with prices ranging from 30,000 to 40,000 VND for ten rolls.
Grilled Field Mice (Chuột Đồng Quay Lu)
Field mice, or Cao Lanh field mice, are a key ingredient in several popular Dong Thap dishes like grilled field mice, sweet and sour stir-fried mice, mice dipped in vinegar, and mice stir-fried with herbs. However, the most common dish is Grilled Field Mice. To prepare this dish, chefs select large, healthy live mice and dip them in boiling water to remove the fur without damaging the skin. After cleaning the mice, they are marinated in spices, skewered on metal hooks, then suspended over a special rotating grill called a “lu.” The grill has a tight lid to ensure even cooking and a hole at the bottom to add charcoal for heat.
The lid is lifted every 5 to 10 minutes, and the mice are turned for even cooking. Once cooked, a layer of pure honey is brushed onto the skin to enhance the aroma and give it an attractive color. The result is a delicious, fragrant, and visually appealing dish that is a must-try for adventurous food lovers visiting Dong Thap.
In conclusion, these five Dong Thap specialties offer a unique gastronomic experience that showcases the province’s rich culinary heritage. Whether you are a visitor looking to indulge in local flavors or searching for memorable gifts to bring home, these delicious and distinctive dishes will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.