Ninh Binh province is famous for beautiful sights such as Trang An, Bai Dinh pagoda, Tam Coc Bich Dong, Phat Diem church, etc. However, a trip to this province could not be considered as complete without tasting various Ninh Binh specialty foods including local paddy field eel salad, Kim Son rice noodle soup with pork ball, Cellophane noodle soup with eel, Mountain snail, Gia Vien fermented shrimp, goat dishes, etc. Referring to specialties of Ninh Binh, we could not miss Vietnamese burnt rice (or Vietnamese burnt steamed rice, Com chay) – one of the most popular traditional foods in this province as well as the country.
Made from rice, Vietnamese burnt rice is a very crispy and nice-smelling fried dish. The simple Burn rice in Southwest Vietnam which is the burnt bottom layer of steamed rice, then eaten with Braised fish sauce. Different from the one in Southwest Vietnam, Ninh Binh burnt rice is a hard-to-cook dish, served with pork floss (in the summer) or warm sauces (in the winter). The simplest sauce is made from fish sauce, oil (fat) and onion. The more complex sauce is made by stir-frying goat meat, goat heart, goat kidney, celery, tomato, onion, coriander, mushroom, black pepper, garlic.
At first, they choose high-quality rice, cook it with water in cast iron pot with a thick bottom to have a yellow, crispy burnt rice layer at the bottom of the pot after cooking. The water should be enough and the steamed rice should be sticky enough to have the best burnt rice. The cook must get the above layer of un-burnt steamed rice out of the pot right away after the rice is well-done, only left the bottom layer of burnt steamed rice. Then he keeps heating while rotating the pot continuously until the layer burnt steamed rice reaches the yellow color and the crisp the cook desire. This step is the most important in making Com chay. If the heat is too high, the layer of Com chay will be thick and too dark. Otherwise, the layer of burnt rice will be tender, not crispy enough. The layer of burnt steamed rice must be thin, yellow, and crispy. This layer is broken into smaller pieces, then dried and stored carefully. To eat, the dried pieces of burnt steamed rice is deep-fried in oil until rice seeds expand, puff up, turn perfectly crispy and pleasant like popcorns.
Above is the way of making Com chay traditionally. The amount of Com chay made by this way is only enough for the family. In addition, when it rains the process of making burnt rice could not complete. In recent days, many burnt rice factories use dryer machines to dry Com chay instead of drying under the sun. Ninh Binh Burnt rice is produced on a large scale in Hoa Lu district, Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh city, Tam Diep city in Ninh Binh province. Outstandingly tasty Ninh Binh burnt rice will be an amazing gift for your family and friends.
When you come to Ninh Binh, please don’t miss this dish also: Ninh Binh Goat Hot Pot