Saturday, 30 April 2011

Banh cuon, Hanoi

So this is my second post from my time in Hanoi.  The dish this time? Another Hanoi speciality: Banh cuon.

They are very thin steamed rice flour pancakes which get rolled around a filling of minced pork & cloud ear mushroom (the dried type which is also used in all sorts of spring rolls, soups etc), and are finished with final topping of crispy shallots.

I found the vendor in question on a great food alley just off Hanoi's central market; there must have been 60 different dishes on offer in this poky little street. 

The business of steaming the super-thin pancakes, getting them off in one piece and rolling them up is clearly pretty skillful.  

Though this guy was making it look easy, knocking out plate after plate:
A mushroom cloud of steam as our man lifts the lid and whips off another delicate pancake
Here's the plate he sent in my direction:

My plate of banh cuon,along with basket of greens and bowl of sauce

It came with a sweet-watery-vinegary dipping sauce, probably a version of nuoc cham but not the standard one I was used to.  I also got some Vietnamese pork cake thing floating in there, and some herbage alongside.

Dipping sauce (with spongy pork cake & deep fried shallots floating around in it)

If you ask me Banh cuon is a nice dish.  But you do have to like the slightly chewy, slippery texture of steamed rice noodle.  Works for me, though I can see how it wouldn't be everyone's cup o tea. 

Next post will be Hanoi's famous 'cha ca' - one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes.   

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