Fermented pork - the elder love it raw, youngsters want it cooked

By Pham Van   June 29, 2016 | 06:45 am PT
Vietnamese, in an attempt to make raw meat consumable, came up with a dish called ‘nem chua’ - sour fermented minced pork. Youngsters brought up by American fried chicken then got a little creative. VnExpress takes you to the three cooked ‘nem chua’ places in Hanoi that have helped shoot it to the street food constellation.

Fried ‘nem chua’ by Hanh

One of Hanoi’s street food places that has earnt itself a cult with a bunch of followers to keep the fire burning. Fried ‘nem chua’ here has been around for at least 13 years, serving tens of thousands of students from nearby schools, who insist on eating at Hanh’s even as they enter the real world. Some even go as far as having this very junk food, shunned most of the time by careful parents, featured on the most important day of their life. Thriving on a unique kind of mildly sweet ‘nem chua’, the place has gone from a small pavement stall to many’s regular, selling ‘nem chua’, both fried and unfried, often in bulk. ‘Nem chua’ at Hanh’s is served whole, in a plastic cup with a home-made chilli sauce, a combination that perhaps has many chained to this very pavement on Linh Lang Street.

Fried ‘nem chua’ in Tam Thuong Alley

On Hang Dao Street in the Old Quarter lies a small alley named Tam Thuong, which has its name attached the same dish as at Hanh’s, fried ‘nem chua’. ‘Nem chua’ here is served in a more professional and “Vietnamese” way, with the rolls cut into pieces and placed on banana leaves, mimicking the way food is served whenever restaurants want it to look like grabbed straight from the garden. The ‘nem chua’ places in the alley are masters in food pairing, with no plate of ‘nem chua’ sold void of a side dish, be it sweet and salty french fries or cucumber or any juicy fruit.

Grilled ‘nem chua’ in Au Trieu Alley

Au Trieu is lined with hotels, restaurants, shops and all kinds services for its foreigner-based local economy. On one end, the alley boasts a dish that keeps it animated all day. Grilled ‘nem chua’ here is a bit different from that of everywhere else, which are usually served fried and satisfy the sweet tooth. The dish acquires sticky texture from the burned pig skin in the minced pork, partly explaining the lines of customers that fill the narrow alley every night. Recommended to pair with lemon tea and juicy fruit like cucumber and jicama.               

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