One of the most attractive features for visitors to Lam Binh district in the northern province of Tuyen Quang is the unique cuisine and specialties of the upland area.
At Nam Dip homestay in Lang Can commune, tourists are treated with an authentic traditional meal of Tay ethnic group, prepared by the host. Notably, the food is not served in bowls and dishes as usual but in bamboo trays covered with green banana leaves.
According to young man Chau Thanh Nga, the owner of Tai Ngao homestay, one of indispensable dishes in a local meal is salad of the ‘don’ vegetable.
Growing in the forest, ‘don’ is a plant of the fern family. The cook first boils the vegetable in water to eliminate its slime, and then seasons it with sweet and sour spices and adds some ground peanuts on top.
Other highlights of the meals are grilled pig, which is seasoned with fermented rice and ‘doi’ indigenous seeds, and boiled duck, which is dipped into a sauce made from a broth of sliced Vietnamese coriander, salt, pepper and chili powder.
This is in addition to bamboo shoots stuffed with minced pork and green onions, and eggs fried with the ‘hoi’ vegetable. In Vietnamese, ‘hoi’ means smelly. True to its name, the fresh ‘hoi’ vegetable is foul but the smell disappears and it tastes delicious after being cooked. The vegetable is also an effective medication to protect the kidneys and the excretory system.
Signature dishes in the Tay ethnic community also include buffalo skin stirred with fermented bamboo shoots, and grilled ‘bong’ fish, which is served with rice paper, fish sauce, vegetables and herbs.