A spicy treat from hai phong cuisine

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Taste of green: nhị Phong chefs often showroom fresh coriander to suit Ha Noi tastes. PHOTO: VIET nam NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Full of flavour: The ingredients of crab spring rolls: crab meat, minced pork, egg, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots, onions and vermicelli noodles. PHOTO: VIET nam giới NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
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VIETNAM (VIET phái nam NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Vietnamese people have long taken pride in their banh mi, a dish named as one of the best street foods in the world by CNN (American Cable News Network), and listed in the Oxford English dictionary as "a Vietnamese snack consisting of a baguette (traditionally baked with both rice & wheat flour) filled with a variety of ingredients, typically including meat, pickled vegetables và chili sauce".

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Banh mi, originally from France, has been adapted to suit Vietnamese tastes. In Hanoi, a banh mày features a baguette - airy on the inside & crusty on the outside - stuffed with a wide selection of ingredients, including beef, chicken, pork, egg, sausage và different kinds of herbs.

Among the different versions of banh ngươi available in Vietnam, the banh ngươi cay (spicy banh mi) of nhị Phong may be the most humble, consisting of just a baguette, some pate and a squeeze of local chili sauce.


A spicy banh mi is just a couple of fingers in width and is filled with an aromatic pate. The bread is drizzled with oil and baked over charcoal for a crusty finish. The snack costs between just VND2,000 (S$0.12) khổng lồ VND5,000 (S$0.30) each. With a single US dollar, you could buy 10.

This cheap, convenient & tasty treat is particularly popular with students. Dropping by a little banh mày cay siêu thị on Le Loi or Hang Kenh streets during school break time, one is sure to lớn see groups of students in their uniforms waiting patiently for the sellers to take freshly baked baguettes from the oven.

In a modern & fast-paced thành phố with tree-lined streets and old French architecture, these little eateries offering a humble dish are still regularly frequented by locals.


It is said that natives of hai Phong are not so fussy with their food. They pay most attention to the chất lượng of the meal, rather than the space itself.


Banh mày cay (spicy banh mi), also known as banh mi que (stick banh mi, for its appearance as a long stick), is so popular in the port city of nhì Phong that it has been named hai Phong banh mi.

It is said that a woman named Hoang Thị Toan on Le Loi street came up with the original recipe some đôi mươi years ago.

After all these years, her little banh mi shop still serves citizens, from students và parents lớn office workers & tourists. The place is often buzzing with activity, & some customers buy dozens of bread sticks khổng lồ take home.


The eatery has an intriguing name - bố Gia (Old Lady).

"Initially, we called it Vinh Khanh. As our business was pretty good và our bread was well-known among local people, neighbouring households began lớn sell similar bread using the same name to lớn draw customers," said Toan.

"Customers used to gọi me Mrs Old Lady, so I decided that our cửa hàng should have that name too," said Toan.

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Most spicy banh mì sellers in nhị Phong make the pate at home.

Pork skin is boiled & sliced & then ground with lean pork và liver. Dried onions and garlic are stir fried in boiling oil. The mixture of ground pork, skin & liver will be seasoned with salt, pepper, a bit of sugar and then stir-fried with the onion and garlic. The chef will then put a layer of pork fat at the bottom of a mould, spoon the mixture of pate on top & steam it for about five hours, explained Toan.

"Good pate is smooth in texture, with pork evenly spread over the surface. The pate should be slightly pink in colour with trắng spots of pork fat. There should be flavours of liver và garlic," said Toàn.

"One thing that makes hai Phong banh mày different from those of other areas is the chili sauce. Locals make the sauce with a mixture of chili, tomatoes, garlic và salt," said Toàn.

Nowadays spicy banh ngươi shops và stalls can easily be found on the streets of Hang Kenh or mèo Cut, và in the Cot Den area.

"The banh mày of nhì Phong has become very famous. When I"m away from hai Phong, I miss it a lot; just thinking of the snack makes my mouth water. The thin baguette with tasty pate is baked & becomes crispy. With a little chili sauce the sense of hai Phong comes rushing back," said Tran Thi Thu Ngan, 24, a native of nhì Phong.

"Despite the heat, the more chili sauce, the better the treat is," said Ngan.

"Every time I travel to nhì Phong, I visit a spicy banh mì shop and eat 10 pieces. I even buy 50 or 100 khổng lồ take back home," said Le Tung Lam, 28, from Ha Noi.

Nem cua be - a taste of the sea



Hai Phong đô thị is also famous for its seafood dishes, which include banh domain authority cua (Hai Phong noodle soup with crab), bun ca (vermicelli soup with fish), squid & different kinds of snails. Among them, nem cua be (crab spring roll) is a highlight.

The ingredients of crab spring rolls comprise crab meat, minced pork, egg, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots, onions và vermicelli noodles.

The mixture is rolled in rice paper & is then fried in boiling oil until it becomes crispy.

The treat is enhanced when combined with another local specialty from cat Hai island - fish sauce, which has been selected as one of Vietnam"s vị trí cao nhất condiments by the Vietnam Guinness Book of Records. VNS