What to eat in Dong Thap? – Part 1

1. Grilled chicken in clay

Grilled chicken in clay (Ga nuong dat set) is a specialty food which travelers should not miss in Dong Thap province. To make Ga nuong dat set, Dong Thap people choose a garden chicken which meat is crunchier and firmer than farmed chicken. Kill the chicken, coagulate its blood in order to have blood pudding make a hole at asshole of the chicken, carefully get the organs of the chicken out. Prepare and marinate the organs, fill the chicken with blood pudding, marinated organs, lime leaves and minced lemongrass which remove the chicken odor. After marinating the chicken, wrap it in lotus leaves or banana leaves, then a layer of clay.

The chicken in clay is grilled on a fire from very dry wood and rice straws for 2 hours. The sticky layer of clay must turn dry and hard. Unwrap the chicken, its leathers are removed easily with the clay, the shining yellow skin of the chicken is revealed and a great smell spreads in the air. The chicken is shredded, mixed with salt, ground pepper, lime juice and Vietnamese mint. The dish is  a little crunchy, tenter, a little salty, a little sour and a little hot. I am sure that it can satisfy the most difficult diners.

2. Sa Dec grilled duck

Sa Dec is a provincial city of Dong Thap province. Maybe the dish is originated in Sa Dec so that they call the dish Sa Dec grilled duck. In Dong Thap, each cook has its own recipe for making Sa Dec grilled duck. However, most Sa Dec grilled duck recipes impress diners with the greasy, tender, a little chewy duck meat, the crispy duck skin, and the typical sweet smell. The plumpy grilled duck with yellow-brown, shining skin attract diners at the first look. Farmed duck on rice fields in Dong Thap have firm, tender and a little chewy meat is a key to delicious Grilled duck dishes in this province.

Besides the traditional Sa Dec grilled duck, Dong Thap also has Sa Dec Grilled duck with green pepper, Sa Dec Grilled duck with honey, Sa Dec Grilled duck with fermented tofu, Sa Dec Grilled duck in clay, Sa Dec Grilled duck with galangal, etc.

3. Cao Lanh grilled mouse in terracotta jar

In Cao Lanh, Dong Thap, plumpy mouse in rice fields with sweet-tasty and smelling meat is a perfect ingredient for the grilled mouse in terracotta jar.

The mice are prepared (guts, skin, claws are removed), marinated with spices for 15 minutes, then hung at the top of a terracotta jar using special hangers. The number of mice which could be grilled at the same time depends on the size of the jar. They make a fire from straws in the jar to grill these mice for 1 hour. The cook must continuously cover the mice with fat/oil, spices, change the side of the mice while grilling. The mouse turns crispy outside and tender, a little chewy inside. The grilled mouse is served hot with a mixture of salt, ground pepper, lime juice, veggies including green banana, tomato, cucumber and Vietnamese mint.

4. Snake sausage

In flood season, big and plumpy rainbow water snake and snakes of Colubridae family with very sweet-tasty and tender meat are caught and used to cook a specialty food which is call Snake sausage (Doi ran). The snakes are burned on fired or poached in boiling water in order to remove their scales. Remove the snake organs and peel the skin. The cook must keep the whole skin. Snake meat is ground, marinated with spices then used to fill the whole skin until the skin looks full and plumpy. Use ropes to tie two ends of the skin and tie the snake sausage into chunks. Snake sausage can be steamed or grilled, fried, then served with various herbs. The tender meat, the crunchy snake skin, the typical taste and smell of snake can satisfy the most difficult diners.

5. Lai Vung fermented pork

The first fermented pork (Nem chua Lai Vung) was made by Mrs. Tu Man who lived in Tan Khanh hamlet, Tan Thanh commune, Lai Vung district, Dong Thap province. Main ingredients for Nem chua Lai Vung are lean pork, pork skin, Erythrina orientalis leaf (or Otaheite gooseberry leaf), banana leaf. Mix the ground lean pork, shredded pork skin, black pepper, chili pepper. Wrap each piece of the mixture in Erythrina orientalis leaves (or Otaheite gooseberry leaves), then banana leaves into a cube. Leave the cube for 3-4 days, the fermented pork is ready.

Unwrap the banana leaves, the shining pink-red fermented pork piece attracts you at the first look. The food has sweet, sour, salt, hot tastes a. The perfect mix of tender meat and crunchy skin makes the food outstandingly tasty. Nem chua Lai Vung can be eaten raw as a snack or served with steamed rice, rice noodles or plain bread.

What to eat in Dong Thap? – Part 2

What to eat in Dong Thap? – Part 3





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