Hill Chicken in Tien Yen
Tien Yen is a small town in QuangNinh province. From Ha Long City, you can easily get there by driving 70km towards the North on the National Highway 18. The trip might be long but the result is rewarding after all, because you can find at Tien Yen a wonderful speciality: Hill chicken!  The Hill chickens got their name from the fact that local people always raise the chickens without any cage. As a result, every day the chickens are free to “troll” and wander on the slopes of the hills. At night, the chickens come back and sleep on the tree’s branches. No one quite knows how they can do that, but that must be one of the fundamental reasons why the meat of the Hill chickens is unconventionally delicious, firm rather than tough, buttery rather than greasy. Tien Yen’s Hill chickens can be used to cook many dishes but the most remarkable one is the simplest dish: boiled chicken. Gazing at a plate of boiled Hill chicken, you can hardly believe in your eyes. Even though the chicken is boiled in a normal way, its skin has an incredibly tempting yellow color as if there are saffron and oil on it. The skin is also thick so it seems to be greasy. However, after one bite only, you will soon experience the firmness and sweetness of the chicken.
Cau Mong Rare Beef
Driving along the 1A National Road will finally lead you to Cam Mong, a small village in Dien Ban district. This small village, though seemed to be uninteresting at first, is a great addition to your trip to Da Nang as you can find there a wonderful speciality called Bo Tai CauMong (CauMong Rare Beed) CauMong Rare Beef has existed for quite a long time and becomereally well-known not only to the locals but also to many visitors from other provinces.Hearing its name, many people might assume that the dish is easy to cook. However, on the contrary, a cook must follow many steps in order to make a perfect Rare Beef dish. First of all, the calf must not be too young or too old. Citronellas and lemon bananas areadded into the belly of the calf when roasting to make the meat soft and delicious. When slicing the beef, the cook must carefully and skillfully separate the beef from the leather. Next, he must prepare his own sauce, a mixture of fish sauce, chili, garlic, ginger and lime. The beef tastes best when we eat it with fresh vegetables like green bananas, basils, corianders, etc. Nowadays, even though one can easily find this yummy food in many places in Da Nang, Hoi An and Tam Ky, the restaurants in CauMong are still magically crowded every day.
Nem chua Yen Mac ( Yen Mac fermented spring roll)
No one can say how long this simple dish belongs to Ninh Binh‘s people but it has been  a familiar dish with not only local people but also for visitors from near to far. This dish is named after the famous place making it. In the past, it was a dish served to  students who came from other regions but stopped at Ninh Binh before continuing their trip to the examination. But now, it becomes a local delicacy that can be served in many restaurants  in big cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang. The cooking technique of this dish is quite elaborate. To make the dish requires not only secret formula but also passion for the work. Meat to make delicious Yen Mac fermented spring roll must be lean pork and makers usually choose meat right after the pigs are slaughtered that will make spring roll more fresh and flavor. Afterwards, meat is cut into 2-3 cm long slices. Then, slices are ground and mixed with “ thính”  ( a kind of  ground roasted rice ). After that, meat is put into one garment to press that will help it to be kept longer. The pork skins are boiled and cut into thin slices. Pork meat and skins are mixed with “thính“  again , added a pinch of salt and rolled into small rolls covered with guava leaves and then wrapped by banana leaves on the outside. Next, rolls are tightened by strings split from giang, one type of bamboo which has long node. Yen Mac fermented spring roll  is served  with guava leaves, fig leaves and aroma vegetables dotted into” nước mắm” which is mixed  with garlic, lemon juice, pepper and chilli. When visitors have a chance to enjoy the dish, they will feel the greasy taste of meat, the buttery and fresh taste of guava leaves , fig leaves as well as sourness, sweetness and saltiness of “nước mắm” .
Mien Luon( eel vermicelli noodle)
Another specialty visitors should try when they come to Ninh Binh is eel vermicelli noodle. The main ingredient of this dish is eel. ing eels to make good dish is quite challenged and requires experience. High quality eels are small eels called” lươn cốm” which are strong , fat and still fresh .They have brown-pink backs and yellow bellies. Besides main ingredient, banana flower and vermicelli  are other important elements. Banana flower should be fresh and ripe. Vermicelli must be made from high quality  phrynuim fruits and are small, pure threads.   Mien Luon( eel vermicelli noodle)   Eels are washed carefully with vinegar, removed the inside , mixed with spices like red chilli, onion, pepper, “ nước mắm” and then fried in hot oil until fragrant and yellow. Banana flower is cut into thin threads and soaked in salt water to remove resin and keep it white. Vermicelli is put into cool water for 5-7 minutes and then fried with mashed onion . Eel vermicelli noodle is often eaten with ginger, “ lá lốt” and lemon juice. The crispness and pleasant smell of yellow fried eels, the acrid , buttery and sweet taste of banana flower accompanied with the spiciness of ginger , chilli , the pungency of “ lá lốt”  and the sourness of lemon juice converge on the eel vermicelli bowl that make a try worth a thousand words.
Hoa Lu’s rare goat meat
Thanks to topography with large part of the province is mountainous area, Ninh Binh is a wonderful place to grow goat and then also famous for dishes made with goat meat . In Ninh Binh, goat are raised on rock mountains instead of  hills like other provinces, therefore , goat meat here is much more firm , fresh and delicious. Goat meat is a good food for our health because it is a kind of red meat but leaner and contains less cholesterol and fat than both lamb and beef. There are various dishes made with goat meat such as stir-fried goat meat , steamed goat meat, grilled goat brisket, goat hotpot,  rare goat meat mixed with lemon . Each of them has its own unforgettable taste but among those dishes rare-goat meat in Hoa Lu is considered is the most delicious one. The process of cooking this dish is quite complex and requires experience. Because goat meat usually has strong and weird smell, therefore, makers must get rid of that smell before cooking. Goat meat is washed carefully and cut into thin slices, then marinated with holy basil leaves and duckweed leaves for about ten minutes. After that, goat meat is dipped in hot water until rare and then mixed with various spices and additives such as ginger, chilly, lemon juice, citronella and roasted sesame seeds. Rare goat meat is often served with unripe bananas, carambola, fig leaves and soy sauce together with some slices of ginger and Lai Thanh rice wine ( a special kind of wine in Lai Thanhcommune, it is  distilled from sticky rice planted right on this land ). All ingredients and spices harmonize perfectly with each other creating wonderful flavor that  will bring diners an interesting feeling and engrave in their minds .
Thit Lon Thui Luoc (“boiled smoked pork”)
The dish is certain to bring tourists an impressive and unforgettable feeling through its rustic and moreish taste.  The cooking process is quite simple but it takes time. Free-range pork that is as firm, juicy and lean as wild pork will be sliced into large-sized slabs and hung up on kitchen attics. After a long time, the pork is drained and turns brown because of kitchen smoke, and then it is boiled in warm water until well-done. Next, it is sliced into thin species, displayed on banana leaves so that the leave flavor enhances that of boiled pork. The dish is served with roasted salt, and ground “doi” seeds (an indispensible spice in local cuisine, originating from a forest tree with the spicy flavor more intense than pepper’s). When eating, you are bound to feel the sweet taste of pork, the crunchy texture of pork skin, the subtle fragrance of banana leaves, the saltiness of roasted salt and the strong spiciness of “doi”. What a fantastic experience! P/S: If you want to try other dishes made of free range pork in Hoa Binh, fermented pork with sour, sweet taste and aroma flavor is an ideal choice with the cooking method similar to “nem chua”.
Ca Nuong Do (steamed broiled fish)
The locals seem quite passionate about steamed dishes and “ca nuong do” is one of which. Various kinds of fish, such as carp, catfish that are caught in the Đà River, fresh and nutritious, are broiled with thin sticks poked through the fish’s body and bamboo clips maintaining the fish right above the fire. The bamboo clips are bound to enhance the taste of the dish with the fresh fragrant flavor. The fish, after broiled, is sprinkled with salt, wrapped into banana leaves and steamed. It is common to serve steamed broiled fish with “com lam” (rice in bamboo tube). “Com lam” is sticky and aromatic while steamed broiled fish is salty, tender. Indeed, the combination definitely whets appetite of anyone through the harmony of sweet flavors of fish and rice.
Ninh Hoa Grilled Meatball
Many people know about Ninh Hoa District through its famous Sour Meatball. However, there is another type of meatball that is by no mean sour but has also become a well-known food. Called Grill Meatball, it is an inevitable dish of local people as well as of visitors from outside the regions. Eating Ninh Hoa grilled meatball in Nha Trang is no different from having it in the district located 34 km away from the city as the cuisine and the sauce are still the same. In general, Ninh Hoa meatball is made of pig’s leg. The meat is grinded before mixing with garlic, chili and sliced pork skin. The mixture is then divided into small pieces, each of which can be wrapped in a special type of leaf to make Sour Meatball or grilled to make Grilled Meatball. On any table of a Ninh Hoa restaurant, beside the grilled meatball ordered, there is a plate of sour meatballs to eat as appetizer. We eat all kinds of meatball with fresh vegetables and chili sauce to get the most delicious taste. You can also wrap the meatball with rice paper to make a summer roll. If you decide to do so, remember that each type of veggie adds a different flavor to the roll. The last thing to do is to follow your creativity and enjoy the delicious food!
Grilled meatballs in Lang Son
Whenever it comes to Vietnamese meatballs, people usually think of the so-called sour meatballs in Thanh Hoa or the tasty fried meatballs on Hang Bong St, Hanoi. However, the Grilled Meatballs in Lang Son could still leave a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to try them. The meatballs are only as big as the wrist; they are wrapped inside three layers of green banana leaves for 1 to 2 days before being grilled on red, hot coals.   In Lang Son, people make this chewy dish from pork meat, pork skin, and a special Vietnamese food called Thính. The best pork meat must be that from the shoulders of the pigs. This is the only part that is neither too lean nor too fat. Usually, one meatball consists of 0.3 kg of pork. The pork must be clean, sliced into small and long pieces. The pork skin is boiled and shaved. After that, we mix the pork meat, pork skin and Thính together before wrapping them in banana leaves. It is important that each meatball is not wrapped so tightly otherwise it would become so hard to eat. After grilling the meatballs, we remove the burned leaves so that the tempting smell of grilled pork can spread all over the place.
Roast Pork
Roast Pork is not only a speciality of Lang Son but also an inevitable gift between the two families in a wedding of the Tay (and Nung) ethnic group. Unlike that in other parts of the country, the roast pork in Lang Son is cooked with a special kind of leaves called Mac Mat. Mac Mat Leaves usually grow on the stone mountains; they have a unique smell, a sweet yet sour taste. Chilies, garlics, wild limes, the unsurpassable skill of the cooks in Lang Son, and Mac Mat Leaves constitute an unprecedentedly great flavor for the Roast Pork dish. The cook usually chooses a 25kg or 50kg pig to roast. After dissecting the pig, he removes the organs and dries the inner parts of the pig. Then, he puts Mac Mat Leaves and other spices inside the stomach and sews it. Next, he uses a long yet steady bamboo stick to hang the pig above the hot charcoals and spin it. However, no matter how strong he is, the cook cannot do the spinning all on his own. Normally, two or three people take turn to spin while applying on the pig a special sauce made of honey and spice to make the skin crispy. It is also important to use a towel to wipe off the fat produced from the roasting process. It usually takes about 3 hours to finish roasting, but the time might vary according to the shape and size of the pig. We can check if the meat is cooked by using a stick to poke the skin. A dark-color juice means the meat is ready to be served! The final roast pork has a yellowish color and an irresistible smell of roast meat and the Mac Mat Leaves. Because the stomach is sewed, all the juice inside the body of the pig cannot leak out. As a result, even though the skin outside is so crunchy, the meat inside remain soft and chewy. When eating, never forget to try the sauce inside the pig as well because it contains all the good tastes of the dish, especially that of Mac Mat Leave!
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