Seven distinctive dishes from Vietnam’s mountains

By Di Vy   October 7, 2019 | 05:14 pm GMT+7

Vietnam's northwestern region not only offers visitors a chance to experience ethnic culture and idyllic landscapes but also their unique foods.

Pa pinh top

The grilled fish or Pa Pinh Top as Thai ethnic group would call it in the northwest. Freshwater fish found in the mountainous area only eats moss, leaves, and crustaceans, so their meat is lean and does not exert the similar strong smell like that of sea fish.After the fish is butchered, it is marinated with several ingredients including ginger, garlic, herbs. Then it is folded (picture) and placed inside the grill on coal.The meat is grilled to silky soft and does not have the burning taste. The dish is charged based on the weight of the fish, which is VND100,000 per kilogram. You can find the dish at upland markets in the northwestern region. Photo by Ngoc Thanh.

Grilled fish, or pa pinh top, is a speciality of the Thai ethnic minority group in the northwest. Freshwater fish found in the mountains only eat moss, leaves and crustaceans, so their meat is lean and has a unique flavor.

After being cut the fish is marinated with several ingredients including ginger, garlic and herbs. Then it is folded (picture) and placed on a charcoal grill.

The meat is grilled until soft. It costs VND100,000 ($4.3) per kilogram. You can find this dish in upland markets in the northwestern region. 

Bee larvae

The season when bees build their nests and produce the larvae is typically from April to August. But you can still enjoy the dish in Mu Cang Chai, a rural district of Yen Bai Province in the northeast region in September and October where larvaes are produced slightly later. The creature is similar to silkworm pupae but smaller. There are many ways to cook it, but the most common way is frying. It’s said that only those risk-taking and adventurous eaters would dare to try it. Bee larvae is a costlier than other dishes, ranging from a few hundred dong to a million dong per kilo. Photo by Ngoc Thanh.

The season when bees build their nests and produce larvae is typically from April to August. But you can still enjoy the dish in Mu Cang Chai, a rural district of Yen Bai Province in the northwest in September and October. The bee larvae are similar to silkworm pupae but smaller. 

There are many ways to cook it, but the most common way is frying. It is said that only risk-taking and adventurous eaters would dare try it. They cost from a few hundred thousands dong to a million dong per kilogram (VND100,000 = $4.3). 

Salmon

Salmon is considered one of must-try specialties in the high jungle mountains of Sapa. The region’s cool climate makes it favorable to grow the fish all year round. Salmon is firm, nutritious and also expensive.It’s either used to make salad and hotpot. Prices fluctuate depending on how it’s processed. A salmon hotpot for two costs VND300,000 on average. Photo by Di Vy.

Salmon is a must-try specialty in the mountainous town of Sa Pa. Salmon here is firm and nutritious. It is either used to make salad or hotpot.

Prices vary depending on how it’s cooked. A salmon hotpot for two costs VND300,000 ($13) on average. 

Thang co

Another well-known specialty of the H’Mong ethnic minority group in Sa Pa, thang co is not easy to eat for most visitors.In the H’mong language, thang co means a big pot of water. It is traditionally made from the meat and offal of horse or buffalo.It is a favorite option on chilly days in the mountains. A portion costs around VND30,000 ($1.3). 

Another well-known specialty of the H’Mong ethnic minority group in Sa Pa, thang co is not easy to eat for most visitors.

In the H’mong language, thang co means a "big pot of water". It is traditionally made from the meat and offal of horses or buffaloes.

It is a favorite option on chilly days in the mountains. A portion costs around VND30,000 ($1.3). 

Smoked pork

One cannot say they have explored the northwest and northeastern region of Vietnam fully if they have not tried the

One cannot say they have explored northwestern Vietnam fully if they have not tried the "pork hung up in kitchen", otherwise known as smoked pork. You can also find the dish in Cao Bang Province, in the northeastern region.

The main ingredients are intestines stuffed with minced lean pork collar and many spices. The cook either grills it on coal or stir-fries it. The result is an aromatic string of sausages that can be eaten all year round. 

Roasted pork

In Vietnamese, the dish is known with as

In Vietnamese, the dish is known as "pig under armpits" because the pigs used for this dish are not too heavy and locals often carry them under their arms or on their backs to markets or restaurants to sell.

A combination of mac mat and mac khen, two unique spices of the northwestern region, creates a sweet touch and irresistible aroma. A kilogram of pork for this dish costs about VND150,000 ($6.5). 

Five-color sticky rice

Seven distinctive dishes from Vietnam’s mountains - 6

This is a popular dish during Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday, among the Tay ethnic minority people. Depending on the family, sometimes the rice can have four or five colors: white, black, green, purple, and yellow.

Each color represents a natural element and comes from natural ingredients, often leaves. That's why the aroma of this sticky rice could remind you of the freshness of the forest.

Photos by Ngoc Thanh, Di Vy, Quynh Trang and Minh Duc

 
 
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