Ha Giang food is distinct and unforgettable. Because of its geographical location, Ha Giang has its own highland characteristics that you won’t find anywhere else.
Vision Travel has picked some essential Ha Giang dishes that everyone should try.
1, Banh cuon
A plate of banh cuon (steamed rice pancake rolls) is a wonderful beginning for a new day. Instead of fish sauce, people of Ha Giang use hot broth to make dipping sauce. This dish is regarded as one of 40 Delicious Vietnamese Dishes as Listed by CNN.
The restaurants serving these delicacies are small, sparsely furnished houses on road sides. Steamed rice pancake rolls with egg are made by pouring a mixture of rice starch, tapioca starch and cold water into pan; spreading the mixture around the pan to make it thin; adding egg and then covering the pan until the cake is well done. Soft-boiled egg yolk and soft, silky steamed rice pancake rolls are especially rich of flavor. If you do not like egg, you can eat banh cuon stuffed with minced pork and mushrooms. Banh cuon is often served with spring onion, cilantro, pepper and chilli when it is still hot. That is the reason why this is an ideal choice for the cold weather of the morning in Ha Giang.
2, Thang Den
Don’t hesitate to try a bowl of thang den when you have a tour to Ha Giang. It will surely give you a great experience. Thang Den is often eaten in winter. At first glance, it might look like Banh Troi Tau in Hanoi, or Cong Phu in Lang Son. However, Thang Den is different from these two cakes in the processing and flavors.
It is made of sticky rice flour without fillings. Flour is kneaded into sphere shapes and boiled in few minutes. When you see it float on the water surface that means it is well cooked. The dish is served with cane sugar, people also spread sesame seeds, shredded coconut, and peanuts around evenly to make the bowl of Thang Den appear more attractive and taste more delicious.
3, Five-color Sticky Rice (Xoi Ngu Sac)
Five-color Sticky Rice is an important dish of almost all ethnic minorities in the mountainous regions of Northern Vietnam. The name of the dish comes from the fact that it has 5 different colors: red, yellow, green, purple and white. To get the color, ethnic people don’t use any chemicals, they have to soak the rice with leaves, roots juice: the red of red leaves, the green is made by ginger leaves, yellow of old turmeric, the purple is made violet leaves and the white of rice.
It is not only eye-catching, delicious, but also has a special meaning. Five colours of the dish represent five elements of life according to Vietnamese beliefs: yellow is earth, red is fire, green is plants, white is metal, and purple or black is water. People believe that these five elements create harmony between heaven and earth. Before, five-coloured sticky rice is only served at Tet, in festivals and special occasions but now you can easily find this dish at the fairs in Ha Giang or in ethnic restaurants.
4, Ha Giang Smoked Sausage and Meat
Smoked sausages and dried meat made in Ha Giang have their own particular taste because of traditional cooking technique. Each step is done manually. In order to make tasty sausages, people have to choose fatty lean meat. If it is too lean, the sausage will get dry. If it is too fatty, it won’t be firm enough and will be to greasy. After being seasoned with typical spices: chili, ginger, pepper and rice wine, minced pork is stuffed into pig’s intestines then tied in chunk. Sausage is hooked up above the fireplace for being smoked,. It often takes 3-4 days to finish the process. is smoked carefully. The cover part is firm, dark, brittle and has smoke smell. sausage is shriveled so chefs boil it first then fry.
To make dried meat, the ingredients are carefully chosen, including pork, beef, buffalo meat, or horse meat. Wine, pepper and some local herbs are added to create specific flavor. the meat is smoked over firewood for 2 days and 1 night and then steamed. The last step is to continue smoking the meat until it is dry to ensure it will last for a long time.
Ha Giang dried meat is delicious and distinctive. Not only local people but also tourists prefer to rustic flavor of smoked food cooked by traditional way Everytime visiting Ha Giang, tourists usually buy several kilos as gifts for family and friends
5. Bamboo tube rice (Com Lam)
Ha Giang is a fertile region with delicious glutinous rice, and Bamboo tube rice (Com Lam) of Bac Me is gradually becoming a special characteristic of Tay people here.
Com Lam processing techniques are quite simple. Glutinous rice is carefully soaked and put in a bamboo tube and added some water. For more delicious taste, ethnic people usually add some salt in. The bamboo tube then will be sealed with banana leaves and roasted above red coals or hot fire. That process will be done within about 1 hour. Before serving, the black outer of the bamboo tubes is removed. The aroma of glutinous rice blending with grilled banana leaves and bamboo tubes is appealing. It is much more delicious and tasty when eating bamboo tube rice with sesame and salt, roasted meat or roasted fish
6. Au Tau Porridge
Walking around Ha Giang city at nights, you should look for a street corner and enjoy Au Tau porridge. Unlike other types of Vietnamese porridge, Au Tau porridge has a bit bitter taste but it is delicious enough to make you never forget after just one try. A bowl of Au Tau porridge is a combination of deliciousness: the tasty scent of glutinous rice harvested from golden terrace of Ha Giang; the nutty flavor of simmered broth with pig’s trotters; and the Moorish taste of herbal leaves. This dish is prepared sophisticatedly and carefully.Au tau roots must first be immersed in water overnight then washed and cooked with rice and broth from pig‘s trotters in 3-4 hours.
Many people once enjoyed Au Tau porridge will come back to eat again. Au Tau porridge is not only a normal dish but also a tonic medicine to cure sick. Bitter porridge in Ha Giang is sold only at night. In the winter, sitting in a cozy restaurant and enjoying Au Tau porridge will be a perfect experience.