Dong Thap province in Mekong Delta region of Vietnam is famous for not only Lai Vung fermented pork (Nem chua) but also Fermented pork skin (Bi mam). Fermented pork skin originated in Binh Thanh Trung commune, Lap Vo district, Dong Thap province. This kind of food is not only eaten every day but also served at Tet festival, weddings, death anniversaries, offered to the ancestors, served to valuable guests in Dong Thap. From a food of rural Dong Thap, Bi mam has become a famous specialty food of the province thanks to distinct taste.
Fermented pork skin is made from lean pork, pork skin, galangal, sugar, garlic, chili pepper, toasted rice powder (Thinh gao), Erythrina orientalis leaf, Musa balbisiana leaf. Although they don’t use fish sauce to make this food, it has a good smell like fish sauce. Galangal, toasted rice powder, Erythrina orientalis leaf, and Musa balbisiana leaf make the food different from similar foods such as Tre in Central Vietnam, Fermented pork. Choosing ingredients is very important in making Bi mam. Lean pork must be as fresh as possible, pork skin must be white.
It is not too easy but not too difficult to make Bi mam. Except for the leaves which are used to wrap, all of the above ingredients are prepared, mixed and wrapped in Erythrina orientalis leaf, then Musa balbisiana leaf. It is left for 3-4 days at a temperature of 25-30 Celsius. The Fermented pork skin is ready to eat and can be store for a half of month.
Unwrapping the leaves, the Bi mam is revealed, its distinct smell spreads in the air. Bi mam tastes crunchy and tender at the same time so that it makes diner eat more and more. The food has enough 4 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, hot tastes which satisfy most of the Vietnamese people. The food is usually served with sliced boiled pork belly, vegetables (cucumber), herbs (Thai basil), steamed rice (or rice noodle, plain bread).
Erythrina orientalis leaf
Pork skin strips
Pork skin strips are wrapped into squares
A piece of Dong Thap fermented pork skin
Dong Thap fermented pork skin is served with vegetables (sliced green banana, cucumber) and herbs
Dong Thap fermented pork skin is served with rice noodles, herbs and dipping fish sauce