6. Fermented pork skin
From a food of rural Dong Thap, Bi mam has become a famous specialty food of the province thanks to distinct taste. The food is usually served with sliced boiled pork belly, vegetables, herbs, steamed rice (or rice noodle, plain bread).
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.
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. Left for 3-4 days, the Fermented pork skin is ready to eat and can be store for a half of month. 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.
They usually cook Braised fermented fish from Fermented Snakeskin gourami. Cook the Mam with water until tender, use a filter to retain the first extract from Mam. Coconut water adds a light sweetness to the extract. Continue cooking the remaining after filtering with water to have the second extract from Mam. Add chili pepper, lemongrass, salt, sugar to the second extract. Pork belly, Anabas testudineus, snakehead, shrimp are added into the pot of Braised fermented fish and cooked until well-done. Lastly, add the first extract. Water lily stem is washed, peeled, cut into chunks, drained off.
It is better to enjoy Bong sung mam kho right after cooking. The typical smell spreads in the air and makes diners mouth-watering. Dip juicy, airy, crunchy water lily stem chunks in the broth of the Braised fermented fish and tuck in. In addition, the flavorful broth plays off greasy and fatty pork belly, firm flesh of fishes and shrimps.
8. Pila conica hung at kitchen
Pila conica is a genus of large freshwater snails, its meat is yellow, crunchy and sweet tasty. Dong Thap province is well-known for big and tasty farmed Pila conica but also the unique dish from Pila conica – Pila conica hung in kitchen (Oc lac treo gian bep).
Pila conica is washed carefully, put into bamboo baskets and hang the baskets in the kitchen where there is smoke generated by the ovens. During 4-5 months, the snails are still alive in the basket, they smell the smoke from the ovens so that their meat turn outstandingly and distinctively tasty and fragrant. To cook Pila conica hung in kitchen, wash them, mix the snails with milk and eggs. After 20 minutes, the snails has drunk the mixture of milk and eggs. Prepare a pot, cover it with a layer of lemongrass, salt and a little of water. Cut the apexes of the snails, put them into the pot. Cook until boiling, shake the pot by hand for a few times, continue cooking for a few minutes.
The snail is served with a sauce made from fish sauce, lemongrass, chili pepper. Pour some fish sauce dip, a drop of lime juice into the shell, and eat the flavorful broth in the shell. Dip the crunchy and tender snail meat in the sauce and tuck in.
Hot pot with Siamese mud carp and Sesbania sesban flower is the perfect mix of the two ingredients which only are available in the flood season in Mekong Delta. This hot pot has become the pride of Dong Thap province as well as the entire Mekong Delta region.
The broth of Lau ca linh bong dien dien is the easiest to cook in comparison to other kinds of hot pots. Just pour coconut water into the pot, add tamarind, spices (sugar, salt, and fish sauce, etc.) and cook until boiling. Finally, top the broth with coriander, deep-fried pork fat pieces, deep-fried garlic. Freshly-caught Siamese mud carps are chosen to cook the hot pot. Remove the tail, organs of the fishes. Wash the fishes carefully, drain them off.
Local people cook the fishes and the flowers at the tables. Siamese mud carp has a small size, tender flesh, and not many bones. So that it takes a short time to cook and is a perfect ingredient to cook hot pot. This dish is usually served with steamed rice (or rice noodles) and fish sauce.
10. Grilled snakehead wrapped in young lotus leaf
Grilled snakehead wrapped in young lotus leaves or Ca loc nuong trui cuon la sen non is a wonderful blend of flavors and spices. The snakehead is prepared, washed with unrefined salt, and drained off. Except for the bitter galangal, the fish organs are retained. Before grilling the fish, the cook put a lemongrass stalk through it to remove fishy odor and add flavor as well as smell to the grilled fish. They do not grill the fish on charcoal but with rice straws. The grilled fish meat must be well-done and tender inside, not too dry, not too burnt outside and very fragrant. The cook removes dust and burnt parts of the grilled snakehead, pour green onion oil and sprinkle some crushed peanuts onto it.
The grilled snakehead is served on a plate with young lotus leaves which are curled and unrolling out into a disc, various vegetables, and herbs. The dip which is made from fish sauce, ripe tamarind, garlic, chili pepper so that it has sweet, salty, sour and hot tastes and viscous texture. Wrapping smelling and tender white grilled snakehead meat in crunchy young lotus leaves, dipping in sweet-sour tamarind fish sauce and tuck in, dinner can feel the soul of the countryside of Dong Thap.