3 Vietnamese pho recipes not to be missed in the mountains
- on Mar 18, 2020       By: BN
Uncomplicated like the popular pho of cities and regions in the plain, the pho that is served in the mountains invites you to a very special experience, all the way from preparation to tasting. Always based on rice noodles, these new variations of Vietnamese pho have been present for a long time in ethnic markets and are a daily treat for people of ethnic groups in Bac Ha, Muong Khuong and Ha Giang. Let your taste buds travel with these three pho mountain recipes which are as original as they are alluring.
Pho tron Bac Ha
Do not expect a steaming bowl of pho soup like in Hanoi, Saigon or other urban areas with rice noodles, meat, and spring onion mixed in broth with a typical smell. The real pho for Bac Ha gourmands is a colourful salad. In particular, "dua chua" or Vietnamese cabbage is essential for rice noodles from a bowl of pho Bac Ha. For fermentation, mustard cabbage is grown at the top of Lao Cai mountain.
Bac Ha’s pho noodles are distinguished from others by the brown colour, obtained from local red rice, which gives a mild taste and pleasant flavour. Neither too thin nor too thick, the dough (with no preservatives) feels really good and can only be consumed during the day. Chicken, char siu pork, fermented cabbage, vegetables, all are mixed to taste. Even if eaten cold, once added with a sweet and sour sauce, the dish will delight guests with a beautiful harmony of flavours.
No one knows exactly where pho chua originated, which literally means "sour pho". But one thing is certain, that is is used as breakfast and lunch in almost all the ethnic villages of Hmong, Dao, Tay, and Nung people. Pho chua is also inseparable from the table of the populations living in the hamlets in high altitude like Thu Lao and Ha Nhi.
Similar to pho Bac Ha, the ingredients for pho chua include rice noodles, fermented cabbage, fermented soy sauce, peanuts, fried pork, sour sauce and chilli. The noodles made from local rice are created by hand, from the preparation of the flour to steaming to the finished product. Once the confection is finished, the good noodles should be a little tough. The sour sauce is normally the water extracted from the fermentation jar. To prepare a sauce with a subtle taste, we prefer the local mustard cabbage.
Other equally important toppings of a pho chua are mashed peanuts and "tau xi" or fermented soy sauce. The particular taste of the dish is also due to the presence of chilli, the best of which, for mountain dwellers, is the product of the Muong Khuong district in Lao Cai.
Pho Trang Kim
When you are in Ha Giang, don't forget to try the pho Trang Kim, a culinary tradition from Trang Kim village, Quyet Tien ward in Quan Ba district. Delicious and original, the soup smells of mountain flavours, from the making of the noodles, and drying in the sun, all the way to cutting the noodles, everything is done with particular attention from women.
Wide, thick and leathery, local noodles are quickly recognisable among the types of Vietnamese pho. A bowl of pho Trang Kim is particularly notable for its succulent garnish, wild chicken with golden yellow turmeric. Chicken bone broth is really tasty and not greasy with the delicate flavour of turmeric.
The weekly Trang Kim market held every Thursday is a good opportunity to enjoy it while meeting the people there. Passengers and visitors on their way to Dong Van from Ha Giang City are sure to treat themselves to a bowl of pho Trang Kim in one of the village taverns.