Cuttlefish Cake
Throughout the long coastline of Vietnam, cuttlefishes are everywhere. Each region has their special type of cuttlefishin different shapes or sizes. As a coastal province, Ha Long is no exception. However, unlike the ones in other provinces such as NhaTrang, where cuttlefish is well-known for its big size, Ha Long’s cuttlefish gain people’s love because of its unforgettable flavor. As a matter of fact, QuangNinh’s sea possesses many kinds of cuttlefish: kislip cuttlefish, broadclub cuttlefish, pharaoh cuttlefish, and golden cuttlefish, etc. They can be used to cook a lot of dishes such as dried, grilled or fried cuttlefish, but cuttlefish cake is still the best of all. The recipe used to make cuttlefish cake requires skills and experience. From the first steps such as choosing the right cuttlefish and cutting its organs, to the last steps such as seasoning or frying, the cook must pay great attention to details. After being fried, the cakes have a delicious, yellow color and an irresistible fragrance. Their spicy and salty taste can be most noticeable when we eat them with sticky rice or Vietnamese pancake. In Ha Long City, there is even a street near Bach Dang Theater where all inhabitants specialize in making and selling cuttlefish cake. Because of its increasing popularity, people name it the "Cuttlefish Cake Street"
Sai Sung
Everyone knows that QuangNinh is famous for its scenery, its people, its culture, etc. but not many people know about a unique food that can only be found in there. This special seafood is called Sai Sung or Sa Sung; it is surely another reason why you cannot refuse to come to QuangNinh. The land of Sai Sung is the sea area near the coastline of Van Hai Island Province, especially Minh Chau or QuanLan districts. Sai Sung lives on the seashore where tide goes up and down every day. When the ebbs come, people have to look for Sai Sung really quickly, often by digging the sand. A good digger must be familiar with the job; his experience enables him to perform quick, skillful and spectacular movements as if he is dancing on the shore. The SaiSungs found are then fried with fresh garlic to create a tasty and buttery dish. This fried food is also regarded as MoiXao, a distinctive and popular food of Ha Long. Another way to serve Sa Sung is to dry them before roasting. When the dish is done, it has a tempting yellow color and great flavor of sea salt. When eating, we dip Sa Sung in chili sauce before putting it into our mouth. Not everyone has the chance to taste this special food, but anyone who did agrees that the combination of fried Sa Sung, fresh lettuces and beer is something beyond their imagination.
Banh Goi (Pillow shaped cake)
A good dish for cold days in Vietnam, “bánh gối” intrigues guests at first sight for its pretty baby pillow shape and its colorful sauce. Like most cakes in Vietnam, bánh gối is not baked but deep fried to create a charming yellow pastry skin, crispy and fragrant. Firstly, water and rice flour are mixed to perfect ratio, making soft and moist dough. Next, glass noodle, wood ears, kohlrabi and mushroom, all tendered and finely chopped, are blended with minced pork and seasonings; this is an easy recipe for a flavorful filling. It is more interesting with the design task: add the filling in the middle of the round pastry skin, fold the skin into a half-circle and then skillfully stick the edges together to make the pillow pattern. Finally, the puffs into heated oil until their skins turn golden and crispy. Not less important is making dipping sauce with fine proportion of garlic, chili, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and water. The sweet salty cake is also served with some fresh herbs such as lettuce, coriander to reduce its oily taste and raise guests’ appetite.
Banh Ran (Vietnamese donut)
Place to enjoy the cake: “Bánh rán” is a delicious finger food for breakfast in Vietnam. There are two main kinds of bánh rán, namely salty cake and sweet one with the latter being much more common than the former. While the filling of sweet cake is sweet mashed mung bean, that of salty cake is quite similar to pillow cake‘s, a mixture of minced meat, prawn, glass noodle, veggie and etc. What is more, among different types of sweet cake, the cake coated with sesame seeds is the best choice due to its moderate sweet taste, crispy cover and subtle fragrant. The dough is a blend of glutinous rice flour, rice flour, mashed potato and sugar. Mashed mung bean filling is rolled into ball shape, wrapped inside the dough and then rolled over a plate of sesame to make its sesame coat. After deep-fried, the cake is getting golden brown, crispy and aromatic. Hiding under that crispy cover is the sweet and nutty flavor of potato, rice, and mung bean. So just relish it and discover how tasty it is!
Shrimp Crackers in Sa Giang
When we talk about the specialities of the south-western region, it could be a mistake not to mention Shrimp Crackers in Sa Giang. Every year, the romantic Tien River provides this district with an abundant amount of shrimps, allowing it to make one of the tastiest types of crackers ever. The Shrimp Crackers in Sa Giang can be made from many different types of shrimps. Through the skillful hands of Sa Giang people, it has become a delicious dish and also a speciality of Dong Thap. The main ingredients include flour, grinded shrimps and ground black pepper. After the mixing all ingredients, the cook stuffs them into small yet long cloth bags and put them in the steamers. After a while, he removes the bags, slice the steamed mixture into small pieces before drying them. The last step is to fry all the sliced pieces in boiling oil until they reach the desired crunchiness and flavor. Each of the final crackers has a rounded shape, pale and moon-like yellow color. Each small cracker has the buttery flavor of grinded shrimps. When eating, you will surely feel the cracker melting in your mouth; its buttery and spicy taste lingers at the tip of your tongue.
Grilled Mullet Fish Wrapped in Lotus Leaves
The bountiful southern provinces are always known for their elegant dishes which combine the interesting local specialities with simple yet demanding cuisines. One obvious example of this statement must be the Grilled Mullet Fish Wrapped in Lotus Leaves in Dong Thap. Even though it has just been invented recently, this delicious dish has attracted many visitors from other parts of country to Dong Thap. The grilled mullet fishes are grilled, wrapped in lotus leaves and dipped in tamarind sauce. The mullet fishes used in this recipe can be caught in many ponds or springs throughout the province. Each of the fish only weighs about .5 kg. Unlike that of mullet fishes raised in the city, the body of natural mullet fishes is firm and slim. Therefore, the meat of those fishes is very chewy, sweet, and bones-free! Right after they are caught, the fishes are washed and grilled on red coal. We have to pay great attention when grilling, otherwise the fishes will be burnt. A well-grilled fish has a tempting yellow color; its skin still remains, covering the fragrant and white meat inside. After separating the grilled fish into two halves and putting them on the dish, we dust crumple nuts and pour the special sauce on top. Made solely from oil and onion, this sauce will enhance the smell of the dish. The grilled mullet fishes are served with lotus leaves and tamarind sauce. The procedure to eat this dish is somehow similar to that of summer rolls. However, instead of using rice paper, you use lotus leaves to wrap around the fish and fresh herbs. Last, never and never forget to dip the fish in tamarind sauce. This wonderful tropical sauce will make eating this dish an unforgettable experience for you!
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