An Giang province in Mekong Delta is famous for not only beautiful sights including the great Sam Mountain, Ba Chua Xu Temple, lines of palmyra trees but also the unique culture which blends 3 cultures of Khmer, Chinese, and Kinh people. Coming to An Giang, travelers have a chance to enjoy the sights, learn more about the lifestyle, and taste a wide range of Specialty foods of An Giang. Long Xuyen rice noodle soup with fish, Scorpion in Bay Nui, Beef sausage, Green sticky rice, An Phu dried snake, Tan Chau climbing mountain cow, Tri Ton beef porridge, Palmyra sweet soup, and many more dishes could not be missed in the province. Here is a list of 19 Specialty foods of An Giang.
Dried snake (Kho ran) made in Vinh Hoi Dong commune, An Phu district, An Giang province is the most famous food as well as favorite gift. To make Kho ran, separate the snake flesh and the bones, marinate the flesh with spices, press the flesh into thin sheets and dry them under the sun at least 3 days. A good Dried snake is totally dry outside but fresh inside. The snake odor is removed and the flesh is rare.
To eat, grill Kho ran on charcoal over low heat until yellow, crispy and pleasant. Grilled An Phu dried snake is served with cucumber, green mango, green ambarella. It is dipped in hot chili pepper. Instead of grilling, they fry marinated Kho ran with fish sauce until crispy. They also make an exotic salad from dried snake, coriander, pomelo or cucumber. The salad is eaten with soybean sauce and chili pepper.
Green sticky rice is a traditional food which has been a favorite of locals and people from other regions. At Ok Om Bok festival, women in villages knead green sticky rice to make a delicious dish which is used to offer to ancestors and Gods. Com dep represents for good things and luckiness. It has been a valuable offer at Ok Om Bok festival for many years.
Local people make Com dep from green sticky rice, coconut, palm sugar. Green sticky rice is harvested 10 days before harvesting ripe sticky rice. Right after harvesting, the green sticky rice is soaked in water for a half day, drained off. Then the rice is toasted until crispy, kneaded in a pounder. Use a flat basket to filter the kneaded green sticky rice seeds, remove the husks. Com dep is usually mixed with shredded coconut meat, palm sugar, peanuts (optional). A delicious dish will be ready after 2 hours. Traditionally, Com dep is served on banana leaves and eaten by fingers. Com dep is chewy, sticky, great smelling, sweet, greasy and buttery.
3. Beef sausage
There are 2 types of Khmer beef sausages: Beef sausage which is sour and Beef sausage which does not taste sour. The first is for visitors who are not familiar with the strange taste of the second. The second has a strange taste and typical smell, local people prefer this type.
To make this sausage, choose the freshest lean beef and beef fat, mince the lean beef, mix the lean beef mince with beef fat. Then marinate the mixture with sugar, black pepper, and some secret traditional spices. They can add steamed rice to make the sausage sour. After that, fill dried beef intestines and dry under the sun for one day. Tung lo mo is cut into chunks to grill on charcoal until fragrant and well-done. The dish is served hot with soybean sauce. The mix of the fat, the sweet-tasty lean beef, the typical light sour taste of the sausage, the salty soybean sauce, the hot black pepper is perfect and unique.
Bay Nui scorpions are black, as small as crickets. To catch scorpions with firm flesh and big pincers which are suitable to cook tasty dishes, locals climb up the mountains with hoes, buckets, tongs, and catch scorpions hidden under rocks. From scorpions, local people cook a lot of outstanding dishes such as Fried scorpion, Toasted scorpion with salt, Grilled scorpion on skewer, Stir-fried scorpion with lemongrass and chili, Fried young scorpion, Stir-fried noodles with scorpion, Fried scorpion with butter, etc. Some people soak scorpion in wine to make Scorpion wine which can treat backache, body aches, and joint pain.
The simplest way to cook scorpion is frying. After catching scorpions. they leave them for a few days so that the scorpion stomach is empty. After washing, the scorpions are fried in oil or fat until crispy and smelling. Fried scorpion is served hot with herbs, tomato, cucumber, coriander and dipped in a mixture of salt, ground black pepper, lime juice. The skin of the fried scorpion is extremely crispy and the inner part is greasy.
Ingredients for this Bun ca are snakehead, rice noodles, vegetables, and herbs. The most important ingredient of Long Xuyen rice noodle soup is wild snakehead which has firm, sweet-tasty, a little chewy, tender flesh and good smell. The fish should be prepared carefully to make sure the fishy odor and mucus are removed. Then the fish is put into the boiling broth which is cooked from pork bone for few hours. Add lemongrass which enhances the broth’s flavor, turmeric which makes the broth yellow to the broth. When the snakehead is well-done, get it out, remove bones, stir-fry the flesh with turmeric.
To serve, put some white, tender, a little chewy, slippery rice noodles into a bowl, then the yellow flesh. Pour the boiling broth into the bowl so that the broth covers the noodles and flesh. They usually eat Bun ca Long Xuyen with morning glory, bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint, long yard bean. A portion of Long Xuyen rice noodle soup with fish looks very nice, tastes amazing and smell perfectly with bright yellow fish flesh, clear and yellow broth, white juicy bean sprouts, green morning glory, aromatic herb.
6. Neem salad
Ingredients for this amazing salad are neem shoots and flowers, pork belly, dried snakeskin gournami (or dried snakehead), cucumber, green mango, pineapple, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, garlic, chili pepper, coriander, peanuts, etc. The tender and bitter Neem shoot and flowers are the soul of this salad. Neem shoots and flowers are poached in water with some salt to reduce the bitterness, then drained off. Grill or fry dried snakeskin gournami until smelling and crispy outside, remove the bones, shred the flesh of the dried snakeskin gournami. Slice thinly cucumbers, cut pineapple into small triangular pieces, slice thinly green mango. Make a sweet sour salty hot dressing from fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chili pepper. Mix all of the prepared ingredients with the dressing, top the mixture with coriander and crushed toasted peanuts, chili pepper slices. The dish is not only good-tasty but also nice-looking. In addition, this comfort dish is very rich in nutrition so that it is good for your health. It is a perfect blend of five tastes: bitter, sweet, sour, salty, hot tastes.
Pickled young mango originated in Gieng Island (Cu Lao Gieng), Binh Phuoc Xuan commune, Cho Moi district, An Giang province. Gieng Island has lush fruits orchards and fresh fruits during the year. Mango trees are grown popularly on the island. In mango season, gardens on the island are full of premature mangoes falling from the tree. One day, Mr. Nguyen Hoang Liet picked up premature mangoes falling from the tree and use them to make a pickle. Since then, people on the island have made pickle from young mango for their family and selling. It is served as a snack, a starter and is a great gift from Cu Lao Gieng.
To make pickled young mango, they choose young mango fruit which is as small as a human big toe. These mangoes are peeled, cut in half or quarter, soaked in water. The seeds should be removed. After that, the young mango pieces are washed, soaked in salt water, washed again. Cook sugar with kneaded chili pepper until sugar dissolves completely. Marinate the young mango with the sugar chili pepper mixture, put the mango into plastic bags, tie the bags and store them in ice. Cu Lao Gieng pickled young mango is famous for being crunchy outstandingly. The sweet, sour, hot and crunchy pickled young mango whet your appetite so much.
Mother Nature gives Chau Doc lots of fresh fishes, crabs and vegetables which are used to make fermented foods (“Mam”). Chau Doc, there are hundreds of kinds of “Mam”, Vietnamese people name “Mam” for their main ingredients. Mam ca loc (Fermented snakehead), Mam ca com (Fermented anchovy), Mam ca linh (Fermented siamese mud carp), Mam ruot (Fermented fish guts), Mam thai (Fermented sliced snakehead and shredded green papaya), Mam ba khia (Fermented Sesarma mederi), Dua mam (Fermented baby melon) are the most favorite “Mam”.
Followings are steps making Fermented fish:
- Choose freshest fishes;
- Removing guts, washing fishes, marinating fishes with unrefined salt, saving them in a jar for 30 days, washing them again by water;
- Marinating fishes with “Thinh” – ground toasted rice and put into the jar with high quality fish sauce. After 60-90 days, the fishes turn red, transparent and smelling;
- Lastly, mixing “Mam” with sweet and creamy palm sugar (a specialty of An Giang). The Fermented fish is ready after 3-5 days.
Mekong Delta people can eat Chau Doc most of the fermented foods without cooking. They usually mix”Mam” with vegetables, spices to make “Mam” more delicious. They are also main ingredients to cook a lot of delicious dishes. Mekong Delta people usually braise Fermented fishes with pork, vegetable. Fermented fish is the key ingredient of the famous Bun mam.
Com ni and Ca pua are two different dishes. However, they always go together and create a very perfect couple. Com ni – Ca pua are usually served on a plate with cucumber slices, tomato slices, minced coriander, and chili pepper slices.
To cook Com ni (Ni steamed rice), choose high-quality rice, wash it carefully many times, drain it off. A little of salt is added to the water while washing. Stir-fry the rice with cinnamon and clove, then mix it with toasted cashew powder. The rice is cooked with a mixture of water, salt, sugar, and curry in a pot. When the rice is going to be well-done, pour coconut milk or milk into the pot, then continue cooking until well-done. Lastly, mix the steamed rice with dried grapes. The Ni steamed rice has a sweet smell, nice look with yellow color and great taste.
Ca pua is made from fresh beef, curry, peanut, coconut milk, etc. Wine and ginger are used to remove the odor of the beef. Shred coconut meat, a half is used to make a coconut milk sauce, the remaining is toasted until yellow. The beef is stir-fried with shredded coconut meat, curry, onion, chili pepper, salt. Then add coconut milk sauce and cook the beef until tender. Add toasted shredded coconut meat, onion, and toasted peanuts.
There are some soup cake restaurants in Vinh Trung commune. The recipe originated in Ut Oanh Na restaurant which is 300 meters far from Vinh Trung market. Tens of years ago, Ms. Neang Oanh Na who lives in Vinh Trung create a soup cake noodles from the special rice grown by Khmer people in Bay Nui region – a region of 7 mountains in An Giang. So that the noodles have typical taste and smell. Not similar to noodles of soup cake in other regions, Vinh Trung soup cake noodles are not round but flat. The noodles are stickier than the others. The clear rich broth is the soul of this dish, it is cooked from pork bone, chicken bone, dried squid and dried shrimp. The dish is topped with pork leg, chicken, wild snakehead, shrimp, meatball at customer wish. Culantra and green onion are also topped to enhances flavors and smell of the soup cake. Fish sauce, chili pepper could not be missed while eating this dish.
Siamese mud carp cracker (Banh phong ca linh) is a famous starters or snacks. In An Giang province, they make a very special dish – Siamese mud carp cracker to gift to their valuable visitors or serve visitors at Tet festival. Plumpy, silver, fresh siamese mud carp are chosen and prepared (head, tail, guts are removed), well kneaded with egg white, wheat flour in a pounder, seasoninged with spices such as black pepper, garlic, onion, fish sauce, salt. Use leaves to wrap the mixture into a cylinder, put into a plastic bag, tie the bag carefully. Steam the mixture for 2 hours. Wait until it cools down, cut into thin circles, dry the circles under the sun for 4-5 days. The dry siamese mud carp crackers are stored to eat later. To eat, they fry the dry crackers in oil over high heat until they are crispy, airy, yellow and bigger. The crackers taste salty, buttery, greasy, a little hot and smell exclusive. The crackers melt in the mouth easy to dissolve.
Beef porridge in Tri Ton district, An Giang province is a comfort, healthy and flavorful dish. It is a good choice in the morning and evening. The porridge is cooked from rice beef, beef blood, beef organs (beef liver,beef lung, beef small intestine, beef bone marrow, beef tripe), palmyra fruit, kaffir lime. The rice should be “soc Khmer” which is smelling, sweet-tasty and sticky. The perfect mix of the salty, a little sour broth, tender thin lean beef slices, melting-in-the-mouth blood pudding and crunchy beef organs makes the dish very special. Hot dipping ginger fish sauce, juicy bean sprouts, aromatic herbs (culantra, heart leaf, basil), hot chili pepper, rice noodles (optional) could not be missed when eating this dish.
Palmyra sweet soup is a specialty food and a favorite food of not only local people but also people in other regions of the country. The sweet soup is cooked from palmyra fruit flesh, palm sugar, tapioca starch, mung bean and coconut milk.
To make the palmyra sweet soup, cut off the fruits, peel the yellow skin of jelly seed sockets, cut the flesh into cubes. Peel mung bean, cook/steam until tender, mash/blend the cooked mung bean into a smooth paste. Cook coconut milk until boiling. Cook palm sugar and water until it reaches a level of sweetness the cook desires, add palmyra fruit flesh and cook until boiling. Mix tapioca starch with cold water, add to the sweet soup to thicken it. At last, add mung bean paste to the sweet soup, stir well. To serve, put some sweet soup into a bowl or glass, pour the cooked coconut milk into the bowl. It has been said to be more delicious to eat the sweet soup with some ice and nata de coco.
14. Bay Nui fried beetle
In Bay Nui region in An Giang province, a kind of beetle appears at the beginning of the rainy season.
To cook fried beetle dish, remove wings, legs, organs of beetle. Then wash with warm water mixed with some salt. To cook the famous Fried beetle, they marinate the beetles with sugar, ground black pepper, garlic for about 20 minutes, fry until crispy and smelling. Some prefer to fill the beetle stomach with a toasted peanut. The fried beetle with peanut looks plumpy, yellow, tastes crispy, greasy and smell great. The dish is served with veggies, tomato, cucumber, a mixture of salt, lime juice, ground black pepper.
Tan Chau district in An Giang province is famous for a very strange dish – Climbing mountain cow (Bo leo nui). Local people call the dish like that not because the cow is grown on mountains but because it is grilled on a special grill which looks like a mountain.
After ordering, customers will be served a plate of sliced marinated beef, a charcoal grill made of cast iron, rice paper, veggies (green banana), fermented tofu or Pro hok fermented fish. The beef is sliced more thickly and marinated with egg and secret spices. Before grilling, the marinated beef is covered with a thin layer of butter, a piece of pork fat is put onto the grill. The perfect mix of butter, pork fat and egg make the dish delicious and different from other grilled beef recipes. Tan Chau grilled beef is that it is always not hard and chewy but tender even it is grilled for a long time.
People in Cho Moi district, An Giang province created an impressive recipe from glutinous rice – bloating steamed glutinous rice (Xoi phong) which is made from glutinous rice and mung bean. These two ingredients are soaked in water, steamed until well-done. Knead them into a smooth paste, add some oil to make the paste nonsticky, greasy, oily and shiny. Form the paste into a cylinder. When eating, cut the cylinder into circles, fry the circle in oil until they turn into a crispy, yellow sphere which is as big as a ball. The bloating glutinous rice is tender inside, crispy outside. The cook should be patient and skillful to press the circle, rotate the ball continuously to make sure it is well-done, nice looking and smelling. To serve, cut the ball into thin pieces and eat. Some prefer to dip Xoi phong in chili paste, soybean sauce. It is also served with roasted chicken or boiled chicken, herbs, pickled daikon and carrot.
Ha nam can cake, Co am cake and Khmer cow cake are the most popular cakes of Khmer people.
To make Ha nam can cake, they mix wheat flour, duck egg, and palm sugar into a cake mixture. They put thick aluminum pans with a diameter of 20 cm on fire. When the pan is hot, cover it with a thin layer of oil, then pour the cake mixture into the pan, sprinkle toasted sesame on top, and cover the lid. The cake will be ready in 5 minutes. The cake is as small as a human palm. It looks like a tiny yellow conical hat. The outside is crispy, the inside is tender, a little chewy, buttery. It tastes sweet and smells great.
Co am cake is made from rice flour and sugar. It is cooked like Ha nam can cake. While Ha nam can cake is yellow, Co am cake is white. It is lightly sweet and nongreasy.
Cow cake of Khmer people is made from wheat flour, yeast, coconut milk, tapioca starch, sesame. Make a mixture of wheat flour, yeast, and water. Put the mixture in a grill oven at 80 degrees Celsius or put it into a pot in boiling water for 3-3.5 hours. Cook the mixture with coconut milk, water, salt, sugar, and tapioca starch. Stir continuously until it is thickened. Add coconut water, sesame. Then pour the mixture into molds. Lids of molds should be heated before covering the lid. The cow cake is usually eaten with coconut milk sauce and toasted sesame.
According to local people, a Vietnamese Thai person brought this kind of Xoi to Chau Doc. The dish which is sweet, greasy and strangely smelling has become a favorite food of many local people. They have changed the recipe to meet local preference and product. Ingredients for this food are Thai glutinous rice, wheat flour, duck egg, sugar palm – a specialty food of An Giang province. Glutinous rice is washed, drained off, steamed in a bamboo/aluminum/stainless steamer which is covered with a layer of banana leaves. The steamed glutinous rice will be ready after 1 hour.
To serve, pour a greasy and sweet sauce from wheat flour, egg, coconut water, palm sugar and another sauce from coconut milk, coconut water, and tapioca starch. The steamed glutinous rice must be sticky, not too wet, not too hard. The sauces should be sweet and greasy enough so that it can make dinners eat more and more. The sauces play off perfectly the sticky seeds of steamed glutinous rice. Some cooks prefer to top the steamed glutinous rice with some mung bean paste and durian flesh to enhance its flavor and smell.
The sweet, greasy, and buttery Cow cake with palm sugar is a favorite food in Chau Doc city as well as the entire An Giang province. Ingredients for the cake are rice flour, powdered palm sugar, palm sugar, fermented steamed rice, coconut water, coconut milk. Palm sugar makes the cake yellow and smelling typically, different from other of its kind. Recipe of Cow cake with palm sugar is not easy. The rice flour is made from Nang Nhen rice which is known as the tastiest and most fragrant rice.
Mix the rice flour, powdered palm sugar, fermented steamed rice, coconut water into a rice mixture. Leave the rice mixture overnight. Cook coconut milk and palm sugar until melting, add the mixture to the rice mixture. Continue brewing the rice mixture for 3-4 hours. Tiny bubbles appear in the mixture. Cover each mold with a thin layer of oil, put the mixture into the mold, steam for 30 minutes over high heat so that the cake has a good shape and well-done. After steaming, the cake is yellow, tender, airy and smelling. Wrapped in banana leaf and topped with shredded coconut meat, the dish looks attractive.