Pho burgers and other intriguing culinary combinations in Vietnam

By Ha Mi   September 13, 2020 | 05:28 am PT
Pho burgers, shrimp paste pizzas and sweet soup with roast pork are some intriguing culinary innovations in Vietnam.

Pho burger

Photo courtesy of kosomap.

Photo courtesy of kosomap.

On the outside, it looks like any other burger. But its secret is in the sauce, which has the hearty flavor of the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, pho.

The pho burger has encased between two buns a fried egg, two slices of Australian beef, salad, and herbs instead of cheese.

To many, the burger, costing about VND70,000 ($3), tastes more like the seasoning that comes with instant pho rather than actual pho sold in restaurants.

Shrimp paste pizza

Mam tom pizza. Photo courtesy of P4P.

Mam tom pizza. Photo courtesy of P4P.

In March 2019 a Ho Chi Minh City restaurant put shrimp paste (mam tom) pizza on its menu, and the Vietnamese-Italian fusion quickly caused a buzz around the country.

Familiar ingredients such as crispy fried tofu, young rice sausage, pig’s trotters, and perilla leaves are on pizza dough instead of in vermicelli.

The pizza base is traditional dough with a thin layer of cheese on top. But fans of bun dau mam tom (rice noodles with tofu and mam tom) might be disappointed to find there is only a thin layer of the notoriously odorous shrimp paste on the pizza.

Besides, the pizza is not eaten with the typical sides used to enrich the shrimp paste flavor such as chili and kumquat.

Egg beer

Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Dinh.

Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Dinh.

Egg beer is a fascinating combination of raw egg yolk whipped with sugar, milk and beer to create a smooth custard.

The egg yolk is carefully chosen before being whipped to soft peaks with milk and later on with cold beer.

Unlike egg coffee, which is usually served hot, egg beer tastes best chill. The cold beer creates bubbles that push the whipped egg cream to the top, creating a lovely texture.

The rich flavor of the whipped egg yolk and the slightly bitter tang and fizz of beer make for an irresistible drink. If you are a beer enthusiast, egg beer is a must-try.

Sweet soup with roast pork

Photo courtesy of bakewithme2016.

Photo courtesy of bakewithme2016.

Tapioca sweet soup with roast pork, a famous Hue dessert, is a tourist favorite. This unexpected pairing of sweet soup and savory pork offers a unique experience.

Its ingredients include roast pork, tapioca flour, sugar crystals and powder, ginger, and peanuts. The outer covering is made of tapioca flour while the filling consists of chopped up seasoned roast pork and wood ear mushroom.

If you visit the former imperial town of Hue, now capital of Thua Thien-Hue Province, try this refreshing dessert.

Sandwich with boba pearls

Photo courtest of riviuhanoi.

Photo courtesy of riviuhanoi.

Traditionally, boba pearls are used as toppings in milk tea, sweet soup and tofu pudding, whereas sandwiches usually have savory fillings such as sausage, cold cuts or cheese slices. These two come together to create a cheese brown sugar sandwich. This combination, weird as it may sound, was once popular among food bloggers.

The sandwich has a soft texture and the delicious smell of cheese and caramelized boba pearls. With the first bite you can get the rich taste of chocolate sauce fused with melted cheese. With the chewy boba pearls adding to the texture and aesthetics of the dish, it is must-try for curious foodies.

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