Ben Tre – a province in Mekong Delta is considered as the kingdom of coconut. Similar to other provinces in Mekong Delta, Ben Tre is full of fresh fruits, vegetables, animals which are ingredients of many delicious dishes. Followings are Ben Tre Specialty Foods you should not miss:
1. Congee with freshwater crab or Chao cua dong
The roe is separated, remaining parts of crabs are ground, mix with water and filter to cook the broth. They also put fish, pork, mushroom, shrimp, fertilized duck egg into the broth to make the dish more flavorful. Congee is cooked until rice is broken. Lastly, crab roe and chopped green onion are added. Congee with freshwater crab is served hot with a basket of pumpkin flower, prostrate knotweed, gourd luffa, malabar spinach, star gooseberry, yellow burrhead, pergularia.
2. Vietnamese pancake with rice snail or Banh xeo oc gao
Vietnamese pancake is a kind of crispy crepe with fillings made from mung bean, pork belly, shrimp, squid, mushroom, bean sprouts… This cake is eaten with vegetables, assorted herbs and rice paper and dipped in fish sauce dip. Size of crepe, ingredients to make filling, way to eat depend on local products and preferences. In Ben Tre, Vietnamese pancake has diameter of 30-40 cm, the cake is filled with stir-fried rice snail meat and onion. Crunchy and tasty snail meat makes Banh xeo oc gao different from other kinds of Vietnamese pancakes in other regions of Vietnam.
Soup cake is a Vietnamese traditional noodle soups with thicker and shorter noodles in comparison to noodles of other Vietnamese noodle soups. In other regions, they use tapioca starch and rice flour to make chewy and tender cylindrical noodles by machine. In Ben Tre, they use only rice flour to cut dough into thick linguine-shaped noodles by hand. The broth of Banh canh in Ben Tre is gelatinous while broth of Banh canh in other regions is clear. The broth is usually cooked from whole duck. The noodle soup is topped with chopped green onion, ground black pepper, duck meat and/or other parts of duck such as liver, blood pudding with sticky rice, gizzard, guts… A bowl of Soup cake is served with fish sauce, fish sauce dip with ground ginger, chili slice and lemon wedges.
4. Coconut candy or Keo dua
Coconut candy is made from two main ingredients: coconut milk and maltose. Producers can add juice of pandan leaves, durian, milk, chocolate, cashew, peanuts to make coconut candy diverse and more flavorful. Sticky, sweet and fragrant coconut candies have won the hearts of all ages in Vietnam. It’s one of the most popular foods to buy on trips to Ben Tre.
Read more about Coconut candy village
5. My Long Rice paper or Banh trang My Long
My Long Rice paper is the proud of Ben Tre people for its great taste. This kind of traditional cake originated in My Long commune (Giong Trom ward, Ben Tre province) where there are 150 families earn their livings by producing Rice paper. Banh trang My Long is made from flour of a special type of rice grown in Tra Vinh province, greasy milk of coconut grown in My Long, seasame. They also add milk, egg to Banh trang’s batter to make it tastier. Thin layer of batter is steamed in a special steamer which consists of a big pot, a thick cloth and a lid. Then wet rice papers are dried under the sun. Dry My Long Rice papers are packed and sold popularly in the country. The dry rice paper must be grilled on charcoal until very crispy, smelling and yellow before serving. It takes about 1 minute to grill Banh trang and the cook must change the sides continuously.
6. Son Doc glutinous rice chupatty or Banh phong Son Doc
My Long Rice paper and Son Doc glutinous rice chupatty usually go in pairs. Banh phong Son Doc originated in . Main ingredient of this food is new, smelling and sticky glutinous rice which is soaked in water, then steamed until well-done. After that the steamed glutinous rice is ground until well-kneaded, smooth and sticky. The receive dough is mixed with coconut milk and sugar, then rolled into thin round which will be dried under the sun later. Similar to Banh trang My Long, Banh phong Son Doc must be grilled before serving. Grilled Son Doc glutinous rice chupatty is airy and crispy, it melts in your mouth in 1 second.
7. Grilled banana or Chuoi dap nuong
Chuoi dap nuong recipe is unique so that this food is special and unique. A half of peeled banana is grilled on charcoal for 5 minutes, then it is pressed to be thinner, then grilled until crispy. The ready Grilled banana is served with a gelatinous and greasy sauce made from coconut milk, salt and green onion.
8. Coconut fruit
Coconut palm has become the symbol of Ben Tre province. Although tourists can buy and drink coconut water at any place in Vietnam, it’s a good chance to try the freshest and most delicious water of coconut which has just been plugged from its tree in Ben Tre. There are many different types of coconut palms with different shell colors (green, orange, yellow), tastes and aroma (aroma of pineapple).
9. Coconut wine
Coconut wine is a specialty of Ben Tre, which has a complex recipe. Ben Tre people make a very small hole on coconut shell to drain out coconut water, then pour sticky rice wine and yeast into the coconut. Then they seal the hole and wait until fertilization is done. They also make a tap so that customer can get the wine out of the coconut shell. The taste and smell of Coconut wine is very special so that many tourists are excited at sipping this kind of wine and buy it to bring home.
Foods fear factor
10. Coconut mice
Coconut mice live on coconut palms and damage coconut trees for foods. Meat of coconut mice is greasy, tasty and smelling so that Vietnamese people use them to cook delicious dishes such as Grilled coconut mice, Curried coconut mice, Roasted coconut mice in terracotta jar…
11. Coconut worm
Coconut worms also live on coconut palms and they can kill the palms. Local people usually catch them and cook them into favorite dishes. The worms could be fried until crispy or put into a plate of fish sauce and eaten while they still live.