“Giò” – One of the dainty morsels

Tet in Vietnam can’t lack of “Giò”, an attractive traditional dishes.

If tourists in Vietnam travel are invited to eat a Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s meal, it isn’t dificult to you encounter “Giò” dishes.

On the Tet traditional tray of food according to Vietnam Culture, with traditional dishes such as Chung Cake, chicken meat, spring rolls and so on, “giò” is one of the dainty morsels. Today, when “giò” almost become daily food and there are more various and attractive dishes on the tray, delicious dish of “giò” cannot be missed…

There are many types of “giò” such as: giò lụa (pork-pie), giò bò (beep dumpling), giò bì (pork and skin paste), giò mỡ (lean and fat pork paste), giò xào (fried pie), etc. Each type has a particular taste but the most important thing to make “giò” dish really attractive is that the fragrance of banana leaves and fish sauce combined in the piece of “giò”.

Giò xào (fried pie)

In all kinds of “giò”, fried pie is the easiest one to prepare, so families often make it themselves when Tet is coming. The main materials are parts of pork such as: ear, nose tongue, pork cheeks and “mộc nhĩ” (cat’s ear). The materials must be subjected to premilitary treatment, boiled through hot water, sliced, mixed with spices, pepper and fried.

After wrapping the fried pie, keep it in the refrigerator so that all the materials link together. The pie that is delicious must be wrapped carefully, raw materials must not be too dry and the dish will stir fragrance of the spices.

Giò bò (beep dumpling)

 

Beep dumpling

Also processed as fried pie, beep dumpling is often added for more fat so that it is not too dry. When cutting a piece of beep dumpling, it is slightly pink as the color of the beef. Especially, pungency and fragrance of pepper feature the typical characteristic of beep dumpling.

Giò lụa (pork-pie)

Pork is chosen to make pork-pie must be lean, delicious and fresh meat. It is continuously ground until the meat is fine. These days, the meat is ground by machine, which makes the process more quickly and helps to save the maker’s strength.

Pork-pie

However, the pork-pie is make in the traditional way remains the delicious flavor that is different from the one ground bymachine, since the makers must use more strength so they take proper care of their product. Fish sauce for making pork-pie must also be tasty and fragrant. When being cut, the pie must has the color of ivory-white and the surface has some small holes, surely that the pie is so delicious!

Giò bì (pork and skin paste)

Pork and skin paste is a local specialty of Pho Xuoi (Hung Yen Province). It is also made from uncooked pork-pie and pork skin that are sliced, then wrapped into small ones like fingers. Pork and skin paste is delicious, it means that pieces of pork skin must be white, clean, boiled, cut into small ones and mixed with uncooked pork-pie. The piece of pork and skin paste is so crispy and crunchy.

Tourists in Vietnam travel  once try to taste these kinds of “giò”, it is certaintly that you cannot forget the tasty flavor and fragrance of the dainty morsels…

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Bun oc – Hanoi’s tasty winter and summer

The humble snail has pride of place in Vietnamese cuisine, especially in Hanoi. A kind of snail living in ponds and lakes that grows to the size of a golf ball is used to make a uniquely delicious dish called bun oc (snail noodle soup).

Hanoians usually eat bun oc for breakfast or lunch, particularly in winter. When it gets cold, it is hard to imagine anything more delightful than slurping down a bowl of steaming hot and spicy soup with the chewy but tasty snail in it.

Bun oc is mostly loved for its broth, a blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Thach Lam, a famous writer, once wrote in his book, Hanoi 36 Old Quarters: “Sour and hot snail broth … makes one shed tears more earnestly than does love.”

The best snails for this dish are oc buou and oc nhoi, two large, rather rounded snails with streaks of color.

After boiling the mollusks, the cook pulls the meat out of the shell and fries it with onions, fish sauce, and MSG.

The broth is made from the water used to boil the snail and cooked with tomatoes to make it sour and pig bones to make it sweet. Tofu, vinegar, cooking oil, pepper, salt, sugar, and dried chili are then added to the consommé.

The snails are placed in a bowl of rice vermicelli and the broth is poured over them.

Bun oc is accompanied by a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs like lettuce, coriander, perilla, knotweed, and basil.

It is said in Hanoi that women frequent bun oc stalls more than men. It could be because the dish is not fatty and can be eaten as a snack between meals.

For Hanoians, the dish is the most sought-after food during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays when they are usually glutted with meat.

While a bowl of hot snail noodle soup is perfect for winter, bun oc nguoi (nguoi means cold) is the dish of choice in summer. When customers order for cold bun oc, the vendor will give them a plate of rice vermicelli, a bowl of boiled snails, and a small bowl of dipping sauce.

The snails are served with vermicelli dipped in the dipping sauce which is a mixture of fish sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chili.

Bun oc can be found in small shops along streets and alleys or on a pavement where a vendor has been plying his or her trade for years.

It is not clear why snail noodle soup is much more delicious at street stalls than at home, but street vendors keep their recipes secret.

In Hanoi the most famous streets for bun oc are Mai Hac De, Hoe Nhai, Hang Chieu, and Hang Khoai and the area near West Lake (Ho Tay).

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New Year Holiday – H’mong People

H’mong (Mong) people don’t wait for New Year Eve. For them, the first coo of the cock in the 1st early morning is the landmark to start a new year.

New Year Holiday of H'mong People

The H’mong includes many groups: Mong Do (White Mong), Mong Lenh (Flower Mong), Mong Si (Red Mong), Mong Du (Black Mong), Mong Sua (Mong Man). Now the H’mong popularity is about 558,000 people, gather in high mountain regions of Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Son La, Cao Bang, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa provinces.

H’mong people have their own calendar, according to researchers, maybe they follow the calendar of Di ethnic group (China). Based on the calendar, their New Year Holiday is estimated in later November, earlier December in Vietnamese official lunar calendar. However, nowadays, almost H’mong groups enjoy Lunar New Year of Kinh people except for a small group, such as H’mong living in Moc Chau, that still remains their own Tet as well as the national one.

In December 25th and 26th, H’mong people start resting for Tet. They cover all producing devices, for example, the lu (lũ) closing formality is hold before closing the lu ron (lũ rốn), mill is unstitched, there is a large paper to implement formality with chicken, corn cake, wine… 

Formerly, H’mong people don’t make chung cake (sticky rice cake). Now chung cakes are made but it maynot be in their Tet hanquet. They consider meat, wine and corn cake three dishes which can’t be lacked in the hanquet.

New Year Holiday of H'mong People

In 30th evening of midnight, they worship family ghosts (ancestors) with a pig, a cock ( a virginial one is the best). After that, they kill the pig and the cock (some rich families can kill a pig for meat in 28th and 29th). The cooked meat is worshiped then they enjoy the meal with wine until hearing the first coo of the cock.   

From 1st on, H’mong people wear new clothes, shoes to go out. Papao throwing is one of Tet games that they are very interested in; besides that, there are more activities such as khon (khốn) dancing, u (ụ) dancing, pipe singing, folk music singing, horses racing, cross-bow shooting..

New Year Holiday of H'mong People

Especially, talking about H’mong Tet, it can’t be lack of Sai San Festival, also known as Gau Tao Festival ( praying festival). If a family have weak members or find it hard to have baby, they will set up a big symbolic tree in the start of village grass. Although this festival is known to be held by a family (the family is called the symbolic host), it’s a communitial festival, sometimes a village evenly take part in the festival of other one.  

New Year Holiday of H'mong People

Gau Tao Festival is organized to respect ancestors of harvest, cattle and to pray for babies. The festival can long 3 days if it’s held every year or 9 days if the time period is each three year. This festival is the biggest one of H’mong people in year and it best demonstrates the features of H’mong culture in Tet holidays. In this festival, after ceremony part, there are charm-transferring (giao duyên) singing and playing favourite games activities as told below.

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Bun oc – Hanoi’s tasty winter (and summer) treat

Bun oc – Hanoi’s tasty winter (and summer) treat.

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Bun oc – Hanoi’s tasty winter (and summer) treat

The humble snail has pride of place in Vietnamese cuisine, especially in Hanoi. A kind of snail living in ponds and lakes that grows to the size of a golf ball is used to make a uniquely delicious dish called bun oc (snail noodle soup).

Hanoians usually eat bun oc for breakfast or lunch, particularly in winter. When it gets cold, it is hard to imagine anything more delightful than slurping down a bowl of steaming hot and spicy soup with the chewy but tasty snail in it.

Bun oc is mostly loved for its broth, a blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Thach Lam, a famous writer, once wrote in his book, Hanoi 36 Old Quarters: “Sour and hot snail broth … makes one shed tears more earnestly than does love.”

The best snails for this dish are oc buou and oc nhoi, two large, rather rounded snails with streaks of color.

After boiling the mollusks, the cook pulls the meat out of the shell and fries it with onions, fish sauce, and MSG.

The broth is made from the water used to boil the snail and cooked with tomatoes to make it sour and pig bones to make it sweet. Tofu, vinegar, cooking oil, pepper, salt, sugar, and dried chili are then added to the consommé.

The snails are placed in a bowl of rice vermicelli and the broth is poured over them.

Bun oc is accompanied by a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs like lettuce, coriander, perilla, knotweed, and basil.

It is said in Hanoi that women frequent bun oc stalls more than men. It could be because the dish is not fatty and can be eaten as a snack between meals.

For Hanoians, the dish is the most sought-after food during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays when they are usually glutted with meat.

While a bowl of hot snail noodle soup is perfect for winter, bun oc nguoi (nguoi means cold) is the dish of choice in summer. When customers order for cold bun oc, the vendor will give them a plate of rice vermicelli, a bowl of boiled snails, and a small bowl of dipping sauce.

The snails are served with vermicelli dipped in the dipping sauce which is a mixture of fish sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chili.

Bun oc can be found in small shops along streets and alleys or on a pavement where a vendor has been plying his or her trade for years.

It is not clear why snail noodle soup is much more delicious at street stalls than at home, but street vendors keep their recipes secret.

In Hanoi the most famous streets for bun oc are Mai Hac De, Hoe Nhai, Hang Chieu, and Hang Khoai and the area near West Lake (Ho Tay).

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Dong Ho painting seeks UNESCO’s recognition

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has decided to add Dong Ho folk woodcut painting to the list of cultural heritages of Vietnam, that seek UNESCO’s recognition as world cultural heritage in 2012-2016.

While waiting for the government’s approval, the Ministry has asked the northern province of Bac Ninh, the hometown of Dong Ho painting and related agencies, to research and set up a file for Dong Ho painting to add to the list of the national intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam.

Dong Ho painting to seek UNESCO's recognition

Dong Ho painting is a genre of Vietnamese woodcut paintings originating from Dong Ho village in Bac Ninh Province. Using the traditional diep paper and colors derived from nature, craftsmen print Dong Ho pictures of different themes from good luck wishes, historical figures to everyday activities and folk allegories.

Dong Ho painting to seek UNESCO's recognition

In the past, Dong Ho painting was an essential element of the Tet holiday in Vietnam. This tradition has gradually declined under the influence of modern types of painting and fake Dong Ho products. However, the art of making Dong Ho pictures is always considered a symbol of traditional culture and aesthetic value of Vietnam.

Dong Ho painting is considered a fine reflection of the traditional aesthetic value, social philosophies and humanitarian desires as spring approaches. The traditional themes of Dong Ho painting are good luck signs, historical figures, folk allegories, popular stories and social commentary.

Dong Ho painting to seek UNESCO's recognition

Elements of everyday life are well integrated in Dong Ho painting so that it can be used to express the thoughts and wishes of people.

Because Dong Ho paintings are mainly bought and displayed on the occasion of Tet, contents of pictures are often humorous, optimist with many bright and powerful colors–like red, yellow or white.

Dong Ho painting to seek UNESCO's recognition

Some Dong Ho paintings became famous for their interesting themes, like the picture Rat’s wedding which features a wedding march of rats with the rat bride and groom and other rat guests shaking before a big watchful cat.

According to locals, the making of Dong Ho painting has dated back to the 11th century during the reign of the Ly Dynasty; while researchers propose that craftsmen began to print pictures in Dong Ho village during the rule of the Le Dynasty in the 17th century. In the dynastic time, Dong Ho village is one of the few places which had the tradition of making folk painting along with Hang Trong, Kim Hoang and Sinh village.

Dong Ho painting to seek UNESCO's recognition

In mid-2001, Bac Ninh authorities asked the government’s permission to set up file of Dong Ho painting to submit to the UNESCO for considering the art as a world intangible cultural heritage.

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Green desert in Nui Chua National Park – Ninh Thuan

It’s the only dry forest in Vietnam.

Nui Chua National Park, in the central province of Ninh Thuan, is considered “a desert” thanks to its dry conditions and low rainfall. Located around 40km from Phan Rang City , the 30,000ha site in Ninh Hai district was first designated a national park in 2003.

It is bounded by the East Sea to the south and east, by Highway 1 to the west and to the north by part of Cam Ranh Bay in neighbouring Khanh Hoa province.

It  is of a special type, boasting a dry ecology in Southeast Asia with a miracle of different floral and fauna species.

A few years ago, a Germany scientist could not believe the dry level measured by his machine in the forest. After measuring again and again, he came to the conclusion that the climate in Nui Chua forest is as dry as that in Africa.

Currently, Phan Rang city remains hot and dry though the rainy season is drawing near. Long dunes of sand and stones caught our eyes when we first set foot on the soil of Nui Chua National Park. Thousands of stones of different sizes are piled up, creating a sense of fierceness and formidableness. On that dry stony and semi-wasteland ground, rooted stunted thorny trees and bushes form a forest.

Entering the park, tourists in Vietnam Tourism will encounter green trees growing amid stones and sand in an intensely hot and dry climate. To cope with the intense heat and dryness there, all the local fauna and floral species have their own way of adapting. In the dry season, most of the trees look like skeletons with rough, stunted and snaking trunks and tiny branches and leaves. Surprisingly, they bud immediately and start a new life after the first rain comes.

Scientists recognized that the natural resources of Nui Chu National Park in Ninh Thuan Province are not only abundant and diverse in biological elements but also have the endemic, rare, precious and valuable characteristics, very useful to scientific research and protection of the gene resource and contribute economic benefits, especially the eco-tourism.

 It has a rich flora with 1,265 varieties of plants, of which 390 varieties are medicinal plants, over 100 varieties belong to bonsai trees and many varieties are edible. It also has a diverse fauna with 306 species of vertebrate animals, including many rare and precious animals, such as the black-shanked douc, white-collared bear, puma and japuar.

At Nui Chua National Park, there is a forest of apricot trees. Due to the arid soil, the apricot trees look like bonsai trees, but in spring they are in yellow blossom, producing a beautiful landscape. The typical apricot variety of this area is Hong mai which has red flowers, some of which have up to 13 petals. Nui Chua National Park is also home to many rare orchids, too.

Visitors are additionally afforded the chance to explore the park via 20km of asphalted roads embracing Mount Nui Chua, the Ngoan Muc Pass and Treo Lake on Mount Da Vach at an altitude of 250m.

Lo O Stream in particular, is a historical beauty spot surrounded by cliffs and clear waterfalls, its flat granite stones idyllic for picnics.

The magnificent mountain ranges overlook the appealing and pristine bays of Vinh Hy and Ninh Chu Beach .

Visitors interested in visiting the only savanna in Vietnam can drive from Ninh Chu Beach in Khanh Hai Commune along provincial Highway 702 to Vinh Hy Bay.

After a few hours of sightseeing, tourists are free to choose among beaches spread over nearly 40km for swimming and cruises, as well as coral reefs with diverse marine life, visible via glass bottomed tourist boats.

The farthest border of Nui Chua National Park is Thit Beach where sea turtles come and lay their eggs.

Travelers can also walk down to Cau Gay Village , home to the Raglai ethnic minority group, and visit local craft shops to catch a glimpse into the lives of the artisans.

Military base CK 19, used by the liberation army in the, anti-American war, lies near Treo Lake on Mount Da Vach and includes traces of guerrillas trench shelters and the smokeless stoves.

The local coast was formerly used to transit weapon and other military equipment from north Vietnam to battlefields in the south

For tourists in Vietnam travel, It’s really the interesting adventure to discover nature and experience culture.

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