Lai Chau province in Vietnam’s northwest is famous not only for its scenic spots but also for its cuisine.
Arrival to Lai Chau, let’s enjoy the peaceful lives in the pristine villages; immerse yourself in the fresh air of the mountainous area; indulge bright smiles of the highland girls; and relish traditional dishes with an tasty aftertaste of the forest… Therefore, Lai Chau is actually an ideal place for travel lovers as well as the one who want to taste the mountainous dishes.
Purple sticky rice
Made by the skillful hands of the Thai, and Day women,… with their own secrets, and delicious sticky rice, after careful processing stages, the warm and tasty purple sticky rice appeals all the visitors from near or far.
The purple of this sticky rice is original from a tree called “Khau Cam” (Khẩu Cắm, its medical name is Hedyotis capitellata), mixed with the tasty rice, making those who had once tasted will never forget that taste.
To get a delicious purple sticky rice dish, people have to choose the scented sticky rice, then wash, and soaked in water from 6 hours. Take the leaves and branches of trees “Khau Cam” to clean, and boil, then wait until the water turns purple. Wait for the water cooler, then put the glutinous rice into and wait within another 2 -3 hours. Then pour glutinous up into a pot called “Cho” (Chõ), carved by a figs tree, afterwards start cooking. Wait until it’s done, each sticky layers in a fresh purple color, glossy, supple but not flabby, now it’s time for you to try this tasty purple sticky rice dishes.
In the winter, with this fragrant smell of this dish, it’s sure that no one can hold back from trying this taste.
Jambon (Smoked Pork)
Jambon (Smoked Pork) of the northwest mountainous area in Vietnam is a traditional dish of not only the Pu Na (Pú Nả) people, but also some highland people. This dish have a typical mountainous as well as impressive taste.
This kind of Jambon is only made in the winter, because the weather is unpredictable in the northwest mountainous area. If they do not catch the right time, this dish will be fail and unable to eat. To do this smoked pork dish, pork is marinated in a long time about 5 – 7 days, then hung up in the kitchen and smoked until meat is dry, fat is melted.
After being smoked and fully cooked, we cut pieces of pork into small size pieces to enjoy. You can taste this dish with some spices as Mac Khen (Mắc Khén, a kind of spices made of seed of the Mac Khen tree), pepper, cardamom, and the special scent of smoke and sweetness of the meat, surely it will definitely make you feel very interesting about this dish.
Lon Cap Nach.
“Lon Cap Nach” or “Lung Pig” is a pig species which is only raised in the highland, especially in Lai Chau. From birth, they were released into the forest to earn a living by themselves. This species have a strong stamina, they can survive in the forest by finding food. These newborn pigs can still run around and feed themselves, they often follow their parents just a few days and then separate themselves from their parents. Especially, this pig species never go far away, they just hang around at a certain distance.
Due to surviving by themselves without great care, these pigs grow up very slowly. Every year, their weight rises about 10 kg, and then does not rise anymore. The main food of this species is leaves, branches, roots of the trees in the forest, it is the reason why their meat is really sweet and not fatty.
There are many specialties from this “Lon Cap Nach”: blood pudding, boiled pork, grilled pork, smoked pork… Let’s enjoy these tasty dishes when you have chances to visit Lai Chau.
Gobies burying ashes
Gobies burying ashes is a delicious dish with lemongrass and ginger, a little piquancy from chili, pepper or phrynium. Once tasted, you can feel the special fragrance of mountain taste that is blended perfectly with greasy but not fatty goby. Gobies buried ashes will be better to have with rice, sticky rice or eaten over sips of alcohol.
Bamboo shoot mixed Phanera variegate flower salad
If you have chances to arrive to Lai Chau, let’s pay a visit to the hamlet of Thai peoples, you will never forget your own feelings you have about the touched legend of the Phanera variegate flower and the Bitter Bamboo Shoots at the same time you taste this delicious dish.
The entire thing you need to know coming from this name, but it is not easy to prepare a plate of Bamboo shoot mixed Phanera variegate flower salad. Beside of the skill of the cookers, how to choose the best ingredients for this dish also is an extremely important step.
Enjoying each piece of this salad, you can taste the sweetness of grilled fish, a little bitterness of bamboo shoots as well as a little greasiness of Phanera variegate flower. Such an amazing taste!!!
Diplazium esculentum Salad
Diplazium esculentum, a typical dish of the Northwest mountainous peoples as well as the Thai peoples in Lai Chau, is also called under the name “pắt cút”.
To prepare this salad, they have to choose the freshest shoots of the diplazium esculentum, then clean and make them quite sere under sun drying. After that, put these diplazium esculentum into a pot called “Cho” (Chõ) to steam them within about 20 minutes to keep their green. It is necessary to steam this vegetable, because its sweet and buttery taste might disappear if we boiled them. After it’s done, they take them out, and mixed them with spices: chili, lemon, ginger,… After 5 minutes, we can enjoy a plate of diplazium esculentum salad with little crushed roasted peanuts.
You feel the best taste of this dish when you feel the buttery taste of the diplazium esculentum, the typical scent of vegetable, as well as the sour and spicy different spices.
Known as an indispensable in the engagement party of the Thai peoples in Lai Chau, the rocky moss is processed into many delicious dishes as rocky moss soup, grilled rocky moss, sautéed moss with garlic leaf,…
It is quite careful and patient to prepare this dish. Firstly, they have to take the moss out of water and clean until they are really clear. This rocky moss will become greener, soft and quite cool after primary processing. After this step, this moss can be processed into these above tasty dishes.
Beside of these above dishes, arrival to Lai Chau, you also have chances to try many delicious dishes:
– Herbs bitter leaf Soup
– Aconitum porridge
– Thang Co (Thắng Cố – A traditional dish of the mountainous people made of the horsemeat)
– Ma Biet Bot cake (Mã Biệt Bọt) or Khau Si cake (Kháu Si)
– Sautéed pork liver with Ginger (Tùng han xáo xung)
– Sautéed minced pork with ginger (Xéo xáo)
– Tofu stuffed pork or shredded chicken (Tì pẩu nhảng)
– Sung Phai corn wine (Sùng Phài), etc .
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