Mang dang (bamboo sprouts)
“Mang dang” is known as not only a favorite main ingredient for a lot of specialties of Hoa Binh but also a specialty on its own. Normally, it is boiled and soaked until sour, and then it is cooked with chicken or duck to make hot sour sweet soups that are certain to warm your belly in cold days. In addition, bamboo sprouts also are stir-fried with “me” (fermented cold rice) or steamed with minced chicken or pork. More interestingly, not less delicious and amazing are broiled bamboo sprouts. Bamboo sprouts that have been harvested will be broiled until singed. The dish is served with “cham cheo”, a mixture of chili, salt, ginger leaves, ground “doi” seeds, garlic leaves and ground garlic. Different levels of spicy flavor mingle with the bitter sweet taste of bamboo sprouts and the saltiness of roasted salt, creating a particularly appetizing finger food.
Ma River’s Mosses
Moss is not only something that grows on the rocks around Son La but also a unique dish of this region. Usually, people take the mosses from the underwater rocks in Ma River and turn them into tasty grilled or fried dishes. No matter what kind of dish you eat, you would still notice the typical fragrance and sweetness of the mosses in Son La. When January comes marking the end of the rainy season, Ma River transforms into a gently streams full of transparent water. It is also the time the mosses, a speciality of Thai people, start to appear all over the places. The mosses there resemble Tao Bien; they look as if they are made of silk. Scattered on the underwater rocks, the lively green mosses dance with the waves of the river. To have the best mosses, people have to find places when the water is pure and deep. The collected mosses are then cleaned, grinded and mixed with fish sauce, salt, garlic, chilly, and fresh herbs. When cooking, we add Mac Khen (a local sauce) to the mixture before wrapping it with banana leaves. Wrapped mosses are then grilled above hot coal until an irresistible smell appears. When it is done, the dish is only ready to be served when it is accompanied by White Wine. Made of rice and grilled mosses, the wine complete the dish, intensify its sweet flavor!
Sour soup (Canh chua)
“Canh chua” (literally "sour soup") is indigenous to the Mekong Delta region but has spreaded widely to other part of the country. It is typically made with fish from fresh water, pineapple, tomatoes, and sometimes other vegetables such as okra or peppermint, and bean sprouts, in a tamarind-flavored broth. Canh chua is garnished with the lemony-scented herb “ngò ôm” (Limnophila aromatica), caramelized garlic, and chopped scallions, as well as other herbs to lessen the strong flavour of fresh fish. Depending on the specific variety of “canh chua"; these other herbs may include” rau răm” (Vietnamese coriander), “ngò gai “(long coriander), and” rau quế” (Thai basil). The sour taste of the soup can come from various sources such as pickled vegetables, fresh fruits like tamarind, sour leaves or vinegar.  They are mixed with a small amount of hot water; the mixture is then stirred for a few moments to release all the essence, and the liquid (minus the fruit seeds and other solids, which are discarded) is then added to the soup. There are many types of “canh chua” but the idea are similar. Some Canh chua can include baby clams or ribs instead of fish or meat balls. Canh chua is best served cool during the over-heated summer of Vietnam. Indian taro cooked with mullet (Canh dọc mùng nấu cá quả) Preparation: In preparation stage, we choose required ingredients including: mullet, a bunch of Indian taro, tomatoes, onion, red chilli, tamarind, dill, a spoonful vinegar, “nước mắm”, salt and pepper. Fish is washed carefully with salt water and vinegar then chopped into several small chunks. Indian taro is peeled, carefully washed, sliced into small pieces, soaked in salt water for 30 minutes and then pressed to remove resin. Tamarind is peeled and thinly sliced. Cooking: Firstly, fish is fried until its colour changes into yellow. Afterwards, we mash spring onion and chilli together using a mortar and pestle or blend them with a blender. Then we heat oil and stir fry mashed spring onion and chilli mixture in the pot until fragrant.  After that, we add slices of tomatoes, a little “nước mắm” and cook until fragrant and soft. In the next step, we add fried fish and a desirable amount of water into the pot. Tamarind is then added. If you want more sour taste, you can always add some vinegar later. The deep skillet is boiled for 30 minutes, until bubbly before Indian taro is added. Finally, we add dill and green onion to garnish. This type of canh chua is best served with fresh lettuce or steamed rice.
Eggplant Soup (Canh cà tím)
Preparation: From any grocery stores, get two or three eggplants, 1 pound of ribs, mashed turmetic, perilla, tofu, onion, grape leave. Other seasonings include fish sauce, pepper, rice vinegar, salt and pepper. Cooking: Eggplants are cut into small pieces, soaked into salt water to remove resin for half an hour  and taken out to dry. Afterwards, we boil the ribs until bubbly with little water and wash the ribs again under cold water. The ribs are then boiled for second time with a desirable amount of water until it is softened and cooked. You can add turmeric powder and fish sauce at this stage. Tofu, best choice is medium type, is fried until yellow and sliced into small pieces. As the ribs are cooked, we can start adding eggplant, tofu and stir lightly. If you need more water in your soup, this is when you can add more. Don’t forget a dash of rice vinegar and a pinch of pepper. The soup is cooked on low heat for about 15 minutes. Before serving, garnish your soup with green onion and chopped grape leaves.
Baby Clam Soups (Canh hến)
Preparation: We need to prepare required ingredients such as baby clams, Chinese squash, green onion, tomatoes, dill, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Baby clams are washed carefully several times to remove dirt, and then boiled in deep skillet for 15 minutes. All vegetables should be washed in advance and tomatoes finely chopped. Chinese squash is peeled and chopped into slices. Cooking: Fried onion in oil until fragrant, then we add baby clams to stir until it shrinks and consolidates. Afterwards, we add the clam broth into the pot and slices of Chinese squash with fish sauce. Bring to a boil, about 15 minutes and add fill to finish. “Canh hen” should be eaten while it is still hot and can be served with pickled eggplant and streamed rice.
Shrimp meat ball and mushroom soup (Canh mọc tôm nấu nấm)
Preparation: Fresh prawn is best for the dish. If you cannot find it fresh, defrost your frozen one finely. Other ingredients include green onion, mushroom, salt and pepper and of course, fish sauce. Cooking Prawn shell is removed and cooked with grilled onion and ginger for several minutes. This kept the broth of the shrimp in with the soup. Bring to a boil and discard the shell but keep the liquid. Prawn is milled and mixed with finely chopped onions. Add fish sauce, pepper, sugar and salt. If the mixture is not sticky enough, add 1 egg York to hold them together and roll it into small bolls. Boil the liquid, add more water as well as mushroom. The balls are boiled until floating, which indicates that it has been cooked. At the end, add dill and green onion to get richer flavour. This kind of “canh” also should be served when it is still hot.
Crab soup (Canh cua)
To make” canh cua”, we need patience, skills , tactfulness and experience. We need to prepare ingredients including:  red chilli, green onion,  “ quả dọc” , “ nước mắm”, oil, tomato, salt and pepper. Rice vinegar which has sour taste and usually made from fermented steamed rice or” bún” can be used as the sole sour source for the soup. Choosing crabs is quite difficult, we should fresh, strong, medium size and yellow crabs. Qualities of crabs will affect strongly taste of  “canh”. Preparation: Crabs are washed carefully, removed hard shell (carapace) and “ yếm” , then kept dry. “Gạch” or crag eggs are kept separately. Crabs are ground with some salt, pressed with cool water and filtered carefully to gain liquid. “Quả dọc” is grilled and cut into small slices. If you cannot find this acetic fruit, you can replace with rice vinegar. Tomatoes are washed and finely chopped into small pieces. Cooking : We mash onion and chilli together using a mortar and pestle and then heat oil, stir fry mashed spring onion and chilli, we add “gạch cua” and stir until fragrant. Afterwards, we add some spices into the liquid of crabs and boil it for 15 minutes. Then we add tomatoes into the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil and add fried ”gạch cua” and cook for several minutes. While cooking we keep the low level of fire and avoid stirring, which will break the crab mixture into pieces and reduces the flavour. When the pot boils again, we add green onion and salt to taste “ Canh cua” is usually served with pickled eggplant that creates a delicious taste. We can use it with streamed rice or ”bún”.
Canh Rau Ngot
Preparation: For required ingredients, we need seasoning including pepper, salt, gourmet powder, sugar  and oil. In addition, we prepare mashed garlic, ground pork and “ rau ngót”. Rau ngót” is punk off to get green leaves, washed carefully in fresh water, kept dry and then crushed up that will create richer sweetness for this dish. Cooking: In cooking stage, we heat oil and stir fry mashed garlic in a pot and then add ground pork beef to stir for five minute. After that, we add water into the pot, boil and add “ rau ngót” , then cook for 6 minutes. While cooking, we dust “canh” with salt and pepper. As Canh boils with bubbles we turn the fire off and dust with pepper.This type of Canh is best served luke warm with steamed rice.
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