Ha Giang is not only known as a mountainous province with spectacular landscapes, customs and traditions, colorful festivals, sheer limestone mountains but also we see it as a piece of land with of attractive natural products and one of the best attractions that lure travelers is the food culture with dishes made from many materials available in nature that have become exotic, interesting and impressive specifically available only in the highland region of Ha Giang.
In this article I will introduce some specialties of Ha Giang land that have become famous and I myself have tried during our trips to Ha Giang. If you have a chance to visit this region just don’t forget to taste them.
1 – Banh Cuon Trung (Rice rolls with eggs)
In the cold stone land of Ha Giang, one must eat something really hot, so hot air to fight the gloom air emanating from the rocks. But Egg rolls, specialty of the border land is a “cold dish”, used with hot soup cooked from bone, sweet and tasty.
When the sauce is ready, you just dip the thin piece of rice, wrap with red color of egg yolk, everything is deep in the self-made sauce and enjoy the strange and tasty flavour of the remote land.
Some places to enjoy Banh Cuon Trung:
– Banh Cuon Mrs Lan, address 116A Ly Tu Trong street, Ha Giang town.
– Banh Cuon shop, just across the old Dong Van market
2 – Chau Au Tau (Au Tau porridge)
In Ha Giang there are unique dishes that make visitors never forget. Bitter Porridge or Chao Au Tau is one of them.
In a cold winter night, wandering in the town of Ha Giang, take a seat at the corner of the restaurant and order a bowl of Chao Au Tau, full gamut of taste in a small bowl of soup: fragrant glutinous rice mixed with aromatic rice cultivated on upland well cooked, the buttery flavour of a bulb of Au well cooked with pig trotters soup, odor herbs, spice leaves…A bowl of Chao Au Tau looks very attractive by harmonious combination of rice, minced meat, bone water, herbs… It is not easy to make Chao Au Tau, the bulb of Au is thoroughly soaked in strong rice water and stewed in 4 hours. Sticky rice Hoa Vang is mixed with white rice cooked in broth chopped pork leg and Au flour, add a little chopped lean meat, another little extra spice, the porridge tastes bitter and many people called bitter porridge.
Many visitors to Ha Giang, enjoy the tasty Chao Au Tau for the first time would return for it. Chao Au Tau is not just a dish but also a medicine for cold. Chao Au Tau is available in Ha Giang all seasons however only sold in the evening. In the cold winter night in the mountains, sitting in a warm restaurant by the red flame kitchen and savor Au Tau porridge is also an interest for those who love to discover new things .
3 – Thang Co
The aroma of cardamom, nuts and lemongrass, mingled with the fat of the meat warm the air in the cold weather of winter. H’mong men to Dong Van market all want to have a bowl of Thang Co soup, drink some cups of wine with friends. Men who have many friends are invited to many wine, those who are drunk at the end of the market session is considered as blessed for having many friends.
The market in Dong Van has been rebuilt, look similar to markets in the cities however the roofs and ceilings cannot replace the umbrellas of ethnic women. In the middle of the market, the Thang Co shops are placed behind the foodstuff. Pork, buffalo, beef is hanging for sale in the big hooks, the wine shops are right beside the Thang Co shops, wine is stored in the big plastic can or ceramic jars carried on horseback from the early morning or the night before, a world of wines mingled with the flavour of hot fiery leaves.
H’mong people usually bring to market Men Men, a kind of corn cakes, when they come to market they buy a couple of wines and a bowl of Thang Co is enough to make a party with friends. You must squat when eating Thang Co, the bowls are put on a long wooden span and served by a wooden spoon, there is always a bowl of salt and hot chili, a little salt would make the Thang Co very strong. Thang Co must be eaten with friends so that you can talk about family, health and business and the sounds of cheers go all about the market. When you begin to get drunk people would sing and play flut, all men and women can be drunk at the Thang Co table.
4 – Com Lam in Bac Me (Sticky rice cooked in bamboo pipe)
Ha Giang is a fertile region with delicious sticky rice that has become famous, the Com Lam Bac Me is becoming a special dish of the Tay ethnic people here.
Techniques to process Com Lam is simple, raw materials is sticky rice treated thoroughly and soaked in water from underground sources, put in a bamboo pipe and blocked with banana leaves, people use young bamboo, cut into tubes with one end open and the other end is blocked, like the bottom of the pan, glutinous rice is washed carefully, add some salt, mix well and put into the tubes, pour water approximately above the rice. The open end of the bamboo pipe is blocked with dried banana leaves and then grill on fire or put under the fire wood, spin the tube around slowly to make the rice heat up evenly. As long as an hour or less (depending on how big the pipe is), the fragrance of glutinous rice spread out then the Com Lam is ready.
Before eating, use a knife and remove the green skin outside the pipe (now burned black) and the white layer inside, the Com Lam is shaped in the form of a pipe, surrounded by an ivory silk shell of bamboo tube. In the old days Com Lam is a priority for pregnant women and women who were feeding new born babies. A scientific explanation, that eating Com Lam will avoid the nature of copper, iron, aluminum as cooked by metal pan and therefore would not affect the quality of milk of the mother, when eating the Com Lam has the fragrance coupled with banana leave and grilled pipe, Com Lam can be eaten with sesame or grilled fish from river.
5 – Reu Nuong (grilled moss)
Moss from rock has been considered a kind of aquatic plant. But for the Tay people in Xuan Giang commune, Quang Binh district, stone moss is a special dish.
The food processed from stone moss is also call Que, this is a tasty and nutritious dish with unique flavour. According to local people, when they go looking for moss they usually go to large fields where moss is plenty and tasty, moss is washed thoroughly until it is free from sand, moss then can be processed into different dishes.
Moss from streams is plenty however less delicious. Moreover moss is seasonal so for people here, moss is a precious dish. Moss can be cooked in different dishes such as fried, dried however the most delicious and original grilled with difference spices.
Tay people say “Que chi ap, tap chi ho”, means moss should be grilled on charcoal. When the moss is grilled you don’t spin the bag of moss but grill one side of the bag then the other side, when tapping the bag with two fingers and feel soft inside then the moss is ready. Since the moss is seasonal so in addition to processing fresh moss people also dry the moss, put in the kitchen to make food reserves. Only the distinguished guests are treated dry moss in the kitchen.