Water lily (bông súng – bong sung) is grown popularly in ponds, lakes in pagodas, temples and gardens in Vietnam for its beauty and easy to grow. It’s also used as medicine and food. Its stem is airy four-celled tube floats, adapts itself to the depth, and stiffs in shallows. Dishes with water lily stems are specialty foods of Mekong Delta. Water lily stems should be peeled of its fibrous outer layer, cut in julienne and soaked in a mix of water and salt, lemon juice/vinegar before cooking delicious dishes.
The beauty of water lily
A water lily pond with lots of buds near a house in the countryside of Vietnam
Peeled Water Lily stems eaten with braised fermented fish paste
1. Sweet and sour soup with anabas testudineus and water lily stems
Sweet and sour soup is a specialty food in South Vietnam. This soup is very healthy because it’s cooked from different kinds of fresh fishes and vegetables. It’s a perfect blend of sweet, sour and hot tastes. The sour taste comes from tamarind (fresh or preserved), tamarind leaves, lemon juice, star fruits, tomato, pineapple. This comfortable soup is a perfect choice for a rainy or cold day. Anabas testudineus – a tasty fish living in Mekong Delta rivers, paddy fields and airy water lily stems in ponds, lakes is the best combination of ingredients to cook sweet and sour soup. Water lily stems should not be cook too long to keep them from being tender. Just top limnophila aromatica, a smelling and flavorful dish is ready to serve. The soup should be eaten hot with fish sauce and chili.
2. Hot pot with water lily stems
Hot pot is a favorite Vietnamese food which is served with the broth in a pot and stove on a dinning table so that dinners can cook meat, fishes, shrimps and vegetables themselves. There are various recipes of hot pot’s broths. Water lily stem is one of the best vegetables to serve with hot pot. However, not many restaurants in Vietnam serve water lily stems with hot pot.
3. Salad with water lily stems
Salad with water lily stems is cooked from lots of healthy ingredients such as shrimp, pork belly, water lily stems, carrot, bean sprouts, herbs, fish sauce, lemon juice, crushed peanuts. Fresh, airy and crisp Bong Sung stems are the heart of this food. Shrimps are boiled and peeled, pork belly is boiled and sliced into thin slices. Carrot and water lily stems are cut in julienne. The special sauce from fish sauce, chili, sugar, lemon juice/vinegar plays off other ingredients after all of them are mixed well. The salad could be eaten with rice papers or prawn crackers.
4. Water lily stems dipped in braised fermented fish paste
Fermented fish is cooked with water, then filtered from bones by a strainer to receive fermented fish paste. Fishes, shrimp, pork belly are cooked with fermented fish paste, tomato, coconut water, lemongrass, chili. Fishes, shrimp and pork belly must become tender, the sauce still covers them. When eating, dinners get some fish, dip peeled Bong Sung stems into the amazing sauce and eat with steamed rice. This is one of the most delicious dishes for a home meal in Mekong Delta. In the past, fermented fish, which made by grandmothers and mothers after fathers’s fishing trip could be saved for 6 months. So that fermented fish is always available at home. Just catch some fishes/shrimps and get water lily’s stems in the family’s pond, mother can serve her family a delicious braised fermented fish paste eaten with Bong Sung stems.
Tourists enjoyed the peaceful and beautiful sight of water lily pond in Vietnam
Mekong Delta is often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam due its huge production of rice crop. Vegetables, exotic fruits and fishing also feature prominently here. Life in the delta revolves around the river, and as such this is the only real way to view and understand it. Would you like to be driven there by Scooter and enjoy cruising on a hand-rowed sampan under the shadow of the water coconut trees along natural canals, then taste seasonal fruit honey tea to the sound of “Southern Vietnamese folk music”, performed by locals? Why not try our Private Mekong Delta Tour?