When visiting a new country the most important activities for tourists are those that allow them to experience the culture first-hand. While you could visit a local performance or buy some handiwork crafts (and we absolutely recommend you do!), if you want a taste of local life you will only find it with the local gastronomy. Hue Vietnam is no exception to this rule.
Once serving as the country’s capital, Hue is a melting pot of architecture and history, culture and cuisine. The food choices are plenty and you will find many options available at quality that cannot be found elsewhere.
Com Hen (rice with mussel) is a very unique cuisine of Hue. Com Hen contains rice, boiled mussel, star fruit, fish sauce, cabbage, onion, pepper, peanut, chili, and a variety of herbs. The specialty is all of these elements are cold. When people eat Com Hen, they add all the above ingredients to a bowl, and slowly add boiled mussel broth with chili sauce into the bowl (the broth is the only hot thing in Com Hen). Com Hen has an extremely spicy flavor as such, so gastronomes remember it just after one time enjoying.
Bun Bo Hue
Bun bo Hue (Hue style beef vermicelli) or more detail, Bun bo gio heo (beef and pig’s knuckle vermicelli) is a popular Vietnamese soup vermicelli dish, and one of the most typical foods of Hue, Vietnam. Fine combination of ingredients make the food famous; the broth is prepared by simmering beef and bones for a long period of time, after that a large range of different spices containing lemon grass and chili are added in. Shrimp paste holds no less importance. Hue people usually add thin slices of beef shank, chunks of boiled oxtail, and pig’s knuckles or pork into the bowl. It can also contain cubes of maroon brown congealed pig blood, which are good for those suffering from high blood pressure. The specialty is commonly served with a plenty of herbs like sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, onions, and sliced banana blossom. Thinly sliced purple cabbage or iceberg lettuces are used in case of lacking in banana blossom. It is highly recommended for tourists to add a few of shrimp paste directly into the soup.
Banh beo (water fern cake) is a kind of small steamed rice pancake. The name is to refer from the shape of the cake (like a water fern-Beo in Vietnamese). It is white in color, sometimes nearly transparent and usually has a dimple in the center, which is covered with savory recipes including chopped dried or fresh shrimp, scallions, mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and oil.
Banh khoai (delicious pancake) is so much like Banh xeo (sizzling pancake) since they both are made from rice flour, water, turmeric powder, added slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and then pan fried. Banh khoai and Banh xeo also are wrapped in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves or rice paper, and stuffed with variety of herb, like mint leaves, basil and served with a sweet and sour mixed sauce. In Hue, Banh khoai is placed open-face instead of being folded in half like Banh xeo. Moreover, Banh khoai always goes with a fermented soy bean sauce, and people consider it a winter food owing to its greasiness and spicy taste of the sauce. Therefore, most Hue citizens only make them when winter coming.
Mam tom chua
The central of Vietnam is reputable for its Mam tom chua (sour shrimp sauce) and Hue is the best place for this unique sauce. Unlike normal shrimp sauce (has brown color and smooth surface), Sour shrimp sauce has orange color while shrimps still keep its original shape. It is quite simple to make this sauce. First, shrimps are clean by salt water (do not use normal water to avoid bad smells) and “cook” by strong rice wine. The shrimps will turn red. After that, carefully mix the shrimps with sticky rice, sliced lesser galangal, garlic and chili. Slowly put all the mixture into a jar covered by guava leaves. Just need to wait for 5-7 days and we have the mouthwatering sour shrimp sauce of our own making. This is the best sauce for boiled pork with vermicelli.