Mekong delta food — Culinary highlights in Mekong Delta
The Mekong River Delta is not only the land of romantic love stories in the Indochina period and animated floating markets. This largest granary of Vietnam also gives travelers a chance to enjoy savory dishes and explore the harmonious combination of Cham, Khmer, Vietnamese and Chinese culture.
Eat white rice and drink rice wine in Can Tho
It’s hard to find a place where rice is tastier and more aromatic than that in Can Tho, the city mentioned in the folk verse “Can Tho gao trang nuoc trong” (Can Tho white rice, pure water). A simple bowl of rice can enchant any visitor coming here. A foreign friend keeps asking me why Vietnamese people always greet others by asking “Hey, have you eaten yet?”. This is not only a question but also a special way to say “Hi” like English speakersask “How are you?”. This way of greeting is very popular, especially in the Mekong River Delta. Surely, whenever visiting my friend in Can Tho, his mother will give me her friendliest smile and ask “Have you eaten, dear?” while I also greet her by asking “Have you eaten, Madam?”
Rice in Can Tho is the most delectable in our country and provides you with the greatest rice dishes. A bowl of streamed rice wafting its pure scent and some pieces of stir-fried beef with telosma cordata flowers can attract anyone passing. After lunch, it’s amazing to sip rice wine while relaxing on a hammock.
The better the rice, the greater wine. Locals in Can Tho have their own way to cook and enjoy wine, which is simply liberal yet close like their personality. In order to have good wine, they need to pay much attention to choosing the correct rice grain and alcohol yeast as well as be careful in every detail. Rice is steamed and cooled down before the fermentation process. Yeast is made from various ingredients such as the top layer of herbs, cinnamon, clove, dried tangerine skin, big longan or betel. Wine which is traditionally cooked using dried straw and rice husk which is the most flavorsome. It takes a long time to cook wine in this way; therefore, locals only cook some bottles of wine by themselves to treat their guests.
Go to Chau Doc Market, visit “The kingdom of fish sauce”
Explore the culinary art of this That Son (Seven Mountains) region, and you will find the obvious interference of Vietnamese, Chinese and Khmer culture. While palmyra is a signature fruit of Khmer people, “tung lo mo” (beef sausage) is a specialty of Cham people. “Hu tieu ca” (noodle with fish) bears Chinese features whereas “lau mam” (fish sauce hotpot) offers diners the flavor of the Southern Vietnam. When you visit Chau Doc, don’t forget to eat fish sauce vermicelli or “drink” with your friends and enjoy fish sauce hotpot which is filled with shrimp, fish, meat and more than 20 kinds of vegetables. Nowhere in Vietnam has such diverse and “freshest-ever” cuisine with fruit, vegetables and spices like in Mekong River Delta.
Nowhere in Vietnam has such diverse and “freshest-ever” cuisine with fruit, vegetables and spices like in Mekong River Delta.
In Chau Doc, the most interesting thing is going around fish sauce markets where you can find a multitude of fish sauce made from different types of fish such as henicorhynchus, snakehead, trichogaster pectoralis, kryptopterus catfish, mystus planiceps and anchovy. They are the quintessence of floating season lasting from September to November. Fresh fish are marinaded with fish sauce, Palmyra sugar and roasted rice, creating a distinctive flavor represented for this region.
If you are about to climb up Sam Mountain to admire the breathtaking beauty of the sunset, stop at a stall on your way to buy some hot yellow palmyra sponge cakes made from palmyra sugar. Nothing is more fascinating than immersing yourself in the sunset, sitting on the windy peak of the mountain, taking in the panoramic view of rice fields and slowly tasting the sweetness of a palmyra sponge cake. Spongy cake featuring the sweet fat taste of sugar and coconut and the aroma of palmyra will bring you a special dining experience. Made from natural ingredients and consisting of potassium, magnesium, vitamin and antioxidant, palmyra sugar helps you to purify your body naturally and makes you healthier. Therefore, those who are sweet-lovers can enjoy this kind of cake without worrying about gaining weight.
Coming to the Mekong River Delta, the land of “white rice, pure water” and of majestic mountains and rich fields, you have a chance to explore the mysterious history and the unique acculturation of this region. And above all, you will find yourself in the world of fresh and delicious cuisine while travelling on the Mekong River.