Mangrove apple hot pot or Lau ban is a specialty food of Mekong Delta. The key ingredient of this dish is the sour mangrove apple fruit which makes the dish have distinctive taste and smell. Lau ban is sour but it is comfortable and refreshing. Lau ban reminds dinner of the countryside of Mekong Delta where there are many mangrove apple trees with beautiful flowers and nice-looking fruits in rivers and channels.
Any hot pot consists of 2 parts: the broth and ingredients served and cooked while eating. The broth from mangrove apple fruit is the soul of this dish. They cook fish, pork bone, mangrove apple fruit, tamarind paste, herbs and sliced chili pepper for a few hours. The broth must be clear, rich, sweet, salty, sour and hot. The mangrove apple fruit should be ripe because the unripe one is bitter and it can make the broth bitter.
Mangrove apple hot pot is served with fishes (basa fish, Tilapia, eeltail catfish) or trionychid turtle. Dinner put pieces of fishes, vegetables into the boiling broth, covers the pot and waits until well-done. Some vegetables such as water lily stem, banana blossom, sesbania sesban are suitable perfectly for this kind of hot pot. Dinner dip cooked fishes, vegetables in fish sauce before eating. Lau ban is also served with white, tender, a little chewy rice noodles.
Eating hot pot while drinking wine is a characteristic of Mekong Delta. There is no better than sitting around a table, sipping some local wine, cooking, talk and wait until the foods are well-done. If you have a chance to be in this beautiful land, let local people serve you the outstanding Lau ban. You will immerse yourself in local life and the meal with Lau ban will be one of the most beautiful memories in your life.
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