A Vietnamese folk song says:
“Cần Thơ gạo trắng nước trong – Ai đi đến đó lòng không muốn về”.
(“Can Tho has white rice and clear water – Anyone comes to the city doesn’t want to leave”.)
Can Tho is full of foods and specialty dishes which attract lots of travelers. What to eat in Can Tho? The following is a list of Can Tho foods that you should not miss on your Mekong Delta Trip:
Sa Dec dry clear rice noodles – What to eat in Can Tho?
One of the highlights of Sa Dec dry clear rice noodles is that the special made in Sa Dec clear rice noodles which are white, long, a little chewy, tender and nice-smelling. Sa Dec dry clear rice noodles is a perfect blend of white noodles, grey pork heart, sliced pork liver, light pink sliced lean pork, green chopped garlic chive, salad, brown deep-fried onion, red chili pepper chili, and dark yellow sauce. To eat, dinner uses chopsticks to stir all of the above so that the sauce plays off the others. A bowl of soup is also served to eat with the Dry clear rice noodles.
2. Cong cake
Made with a special tool named “Cong”, Cong cake is crispy outside and airy inside
Cong Cake is a very delicious Vietnamese traditional savory cake which is as small as a muffin, crispy outside, airy and soft inside. The cake buttery, tender, crispy at the same time. Main ingredients to make this cake are rice flour, mung bean, pork, and shrimp. The cake is named after a special tool called “Cong” used to mold and fry it.
Traditionally rice is soaked in water and ground with water to make a rice flour mixture. Whole mung bean is soaked in water for about 6 hours, then cooked until tender and put into the mixture. Firstly, the cook must put “Cong” into hot oil so that “Cong” is hot. After that, the cook pours the mixture into the “Cong”, top two or three shrimps onto the mixture and fries until the cake turns crispy and yellow. Cong Cake should be served hot with fresh vegetables and herbs, sweet and sour dipping fish sauce.
Banh tet – What to eat in Can Tho?
In Can Tho, Cylindrical glutinous rice cake with magenta leaf recipe (Banh tet la cam) is considered the best. Ms. Huynh Thi Trong created Cylindrical glutinous rice cake with magenta leaf recipe which has become famous around the country. One of the highlights of Banh tet la cam is that its crust is purple thanks to magenta leaf juice, its filling is made from salted duck egg yolk.
To make the crust, soak glutinous rice in magenta leaf juice to make the rice purple, typically tasty and smelling. Then stir-fry the purple glutinous rice with coconut cream, use banana leaves to wrap glutinous rice, filling into a cylindrical roll, use dry banana bark to tight, steamed or cooked in water for about 5 hours. To serve, cut across the cake into circles which looks like round flowers with purple petals. There are four popular kinds of fillings of Banh tet la cam: pork and salted duck egg yolk, pork fat, banana, mung bean. Each has its own taste but all are delicious outstandingly.
4. Duc cake
Duc cake – What to eat in Can Tho?
Vietnam has more than 20 Duc cake recipes including sweet and savory. Duc cake originated from North Vietnam. People in North, Central, and South Vietnam have changed the recipe of Duc cake to meet local tastes and preferences as well as local products. In Can Tho, savory Duc cake (or Banh duc man) and Duc cake with pandan leaf (or Banh duc la dua) are specialty foods of the region.
Can Tho Savory Duc cake is white, tender, and smooth. High-quality rice is soaked in water, ground into rice flour, mixed with coconut cream. The topping of the cake is made from shrimp, lean pork, jicama, shallots, and garlic. All of the above are minced, stir-fried until pleasant. Rice flour mixture is ladled onto the tray layer by layer. At last, the toppings are put onto the last layer. The cake is steamed until all are well-done. The cooled cake is cut into diamond or rectangular pieces, served with sweet and sour dipping fish sauce, cucumber, poached bean sprouts, herbs, and a greasy sweet-salty sauce from coconut cream (optional).
Duc cake with pandan leaf is green, tender, lightly sweet, and smelling. Pandan juice adds color and a distinctively impressive fragrant. High-quality rice is soaked in water for a few hours, ground into rice flour, mixed with pandan juice, cooked in a pot. The cook must stir the mixture continuously. Ash water could be added to the mixture to make the cake chewy. Sweet Duc cake with pandan leaf is cut into medium pieces and served with caramel, sauce from coconut cream, crushed peanuts.
5. Hoi cake and Roasted Pork
Banh hoi – What to eat in Can Tho?
Phong Dien district in Can Tho is not only well-known for Phong Dien floating market but also an authentic dishes Hoi cake – Roasted pork. Made from rice (or rice flour), Hoi cake (Question cake, Rice vermicelli sheets) is white, tender, a little chewy woven thin rice noodle sheet. People in Can Tho eat the cake with Vietnamese roasted pork (Heo quay), vegetables, herbs, sweet and sour dipping fish sauce.
Hoi cake is usually rolled, arranged skillfully on a plate, topped with chopped green onion oil and crushed peanut. Tender, crispy, chewy, fatty and smelling Roasted pork in Vietnamese style is a highlight of this dish. Pork belly is usually chosen to make Heo quay because it is incredibly tender meat layered with silky, lustrous fat, chewy thin skin. This cut of pork is perfectly suitable for making Heo quay. The pork belly is seasoned with five-spices, ground black pepper, salt, sugar. There are many ways to make the skin crispy. The most popular way is applying vinegar to the skin.
Oc nuong tieu xanh – What to eat in Can Tho?
Grilled escargot with pepper (Oc nuong tieu xanh) is a very strange exotic dish in Can Tho. Escargot is a very popular food in Can Tho as well as Mekong Delta for its tenter and crunchy sweet-tasty flesh. To make this dish, the snail is boiled, then put into a pot to grill on charcoal with a mix of salt, fish sauce, sugar, pepper until the broth inside its shell boils for a while. The escargot should not be grilled for too long. Otherwise, its flesh will turn dry and not very tasty. The dish is served with Vietnamese mint. It pairs well with beer. This dish is high in calcium, other vitamins and minerals.
7. Grilled banana in steamed sticky rice
Chuoi nep nuong – What to eat in Can Tho?
Grilled banana in steamed sticky rice (Chuoi nep nuong) is one of the most popular Vietnamese traditional cake. The recipe is simple: wrap the peeled apple banana in steamed sticky rice, then a layer of banana leaf wrap, grill the cake on charcoal until banana leaves turn black-brown and a little burnt and smelling. The outside steamed sticky rice turns crispy and yellow, the inner banana turns tender, sweeter than the raw banana, a little chewy.
The raw banana should not be too ripe so that the cooked banana will be a little chewy. Grilled banana in steamed sticky rice should be eaten warm so that the outside layer is still crispy. The seller/vendor usually grill the cake at his/her shoulder pole or rolling cart and serve the cake to the buyer. Although the cake is considered a snack, it can fulfill and warm your stomach, especially on cold and rainy days.
8. Tam bi cake
What to eat in Can Tho? Do not miss Tam bi cake which has a strange name and perfect taste
Tam bi cake consists of 2 main parts: Tam cake and Bi. Made from rice flour, Tam cake is thick, long, tender, a little chewy, white noodles. Chewy and smelling Bi is made by boiling, cut pig skin into thin strips, mix with toasted rice powder, minced garlic, deep-fried onion, salt, sugar, etc. To serve the cake, they top Tam cake with Bi, pickles, herbs, onion oil and a greasy sauce from coconut cream. When eating, dinner pours sweet-sour fish sauce dip onto the plate of Tam bi cake, then eat with chopsticks. A perfect mix of all sweet, salty, sour, bitter, hot tastes is worth a try on your trip to Can Tho.
9. Hot pot with Fermented fish
Lau mam – What to eat in Can Tho?
In Can Tho they use at least 3 types of Fermented fishes (Mam) to cook Lau mam. Fermented fish from snakeskin gourami is used to make the dish smell uniquely, Fermented fish from sheatfish is used to add a sweet taste and typical color, Fermented fish from siamese mud carp is used to make the dish greasy. The broth of Lau mam must be rich, not too salty, brown, clear, a little-thickened thanks to minced garlic, lemongrass, and chili pepper. After cooking the broth from all types of Fermented fishes and spices, the cook removes fish bones by a filter, then add coconut water which makes the dish sweet and fragrant.
Eggplant, pork belly, snakehead, pangasius conchophilus, shrimp, squid, fish cake, various vegetables (water lily stem, yellow velvetleaf, pumpkin flower, greens, winged bean, sesbania grandiflora flower) are served with the Hot pot so that dinner can cook them at the table. When eating, dinner dip cooked meat, shrimp, vegetables into fish sauce or fish sauce dip made from fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, chili pepper.
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, little chewy rice noodles.
Cai Rang in Can Tho is not only famous for Cai Rang floating market – the biggest of its kind in Mekong Delta but also Cai Rang grilled pork patties (Nem nuong Cai Rang) – a delicious grilled dish from pork. Grilled pork patties (Nem nuong) is popular in many regions of Vietnam. However, local people have changed the recipe to meet local tastes, preferences, and products. (Nem nuong Cai Rang) recipe was created by Ms. Tu Khem. Its amazing taste has attracted lots of travelers coming to this region to try the dish. The dish has become the pride of people in Can Tho.
Cai Rang grilled pork patties – What to eat in Can Tho?
Fresh pork is sliced thinly, marinated with grilled garlic, minced garlic, thickened fish sauce, salt, kneaded with sugar and ground pepper until chewy. The longer the pork is kneaded, the chewier the pork is. White-pink well-kneaded pork is formed into balls, placed on bamboo skewers, then grilled on charcoal until yellow, crispy outside, tender inside, and nice-smelling. Cai Rang grilled pork patties taste sweet, crunchy, chewy, fatty and buttery.
When eating, just get pork balls out of skewers, eat with Phong Dien Hoi cake, vegetables (cucumber, pineapple, star-fruit, green banana), herbs, carrot-daikon pickles. Wrap all of the above in a little sticky thin rice paper, dip in a special viscous and well-kneaded sauce from fermented soybeans, salt, sugar, crushed peanuts, and chili pepper.
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