Ben Tre Specialty Foods
Situated in South Vietnam, Mekong Delta is absolutely a colorful treasure with its breathtaking natural beauty, cultural diversities, hospitable local people, and unforgettable experiences for the tourists who have a chance to come to this gorgeous land. In particular, Ben Tre province - the capital of the coconut tree is one of the stunning destinations of the Mekong Delta which appeals to all those love Vietnam’ s rustic countryside, the system of entangled canals, unique cultural heritage and a large number of scrumptious cuisine with a strong characteristic of the South.
In addition, as the symbol of Ben Tre, coconut is very familiar and useful for the locals due to a large number of benefits from fruits, wood, and leaves, of this tree such as flowers for medicine, the sticks for making brooms, leaves for making the roof, husks for creating ropes, natural scrubber and craft material, the oil for cooking, skin, and hair, the shells for steam food and also craft material and etc. Moreover, the foods made from this tree are referred to as incredibly amazing which impeccably specifies in the local cooking and in the flavor of the Mekong Delta’s cuisine.
Now, let start your wonderful journey to discover the picturesque paradise of the secluded countryside and enjoy the authentic Western flavors with a great number of tasty delicacies in this beautiful land.
Coconut Core Salad (Củ hủ dừa)
Coconut core salad is considered as one of the quintessence and a specialty of the homeland of coconut. Your journey to discover the culinary of the Mekong Delta will not be complete if you skip the special flavor of this dish. Being found at the tops of the coconut tree and surrounded by roots of branches, Củ Hủ Dừa is known as the white part with a unique sweet and fresh taste. This is also considered a luxury dish of the locals for having to cut down the coconut tree to enjoy the special flavor of the core. However, it is actually good for your digestive system as a healthy food which contains highly nutritious, especially minerals. There are manifold tasty and attractive courses with the core as a major material which imbued the typical features of this place, but definitely the most delicious is coconut core salad. Before being processed into the delicious dish, Củ hủ dừa had been cut into strips but not too finely and then mixed with a combination of ice water and fresh lime juice to keep the crispy taste as well as the white in the color of Củ Hủ dừa. As being compared to a colorful picture of the pure white of the coconut core, the eye-catching red of boiled shrimp and the color of bacon, thinly sliced pork ears, vegetables, carrot, garlic cloves, red chili, laksa leaves, roasted peanuts. To create tasty Coconut core salad, the main sauce is a flavorful combination that included lime juice, chili sauce, fish sauce, roasted peanuts, and fried dried onions. It is so enjoyable to enjoy the dish with the prawn crackers. With the sweet and sour taste, the fragrance, Gỏi củ hủ dừa will definitely make you fall in love with this delicacy.
Coconut Candy (Kẹo Dừa)
As one of the most famous sweet candy in Ben Tre Province where grows a large number of coconut trees of Vietnamese country, Coconut candy is considered as one of the specialties which you should try when having a chance to visit this stunning land. To create the candy with a combination of chewy, sweet, and irresistible flavor, people have to choose the most delicious and highest quality coconuts with white, fat, and chewy coconut rice. In addition, malt is also one of the most important features to create an aromatic flavor of this candy. In the process of mixing coconut milk and malt, it is actually required the sophisticated and skillful of the workers who considered making candy as an art and tradition. Some of the famous coconut candies' brand with various flavors which captivate visitors from near and far are Thanh Long, Tuyet Phung in Mo Cay District as following a handed-down folk song: "Mo Cay candy is scented and fatty. Mo Cay girls are both skillful and docile". With different flavors including cocoa coconut candy, candy durian coconut, coconut candy peanuts, etc,.. and with basic ingredients such as coconut water, malt syrup, and sugar, Ben Tre coconut candy is the dish that you should try when you come here to enjoy the soft and sweet taste of Ben Tre – the land of green coconut trees.
Coconut Rice and Roasted shrimp with coconut milk (Cơm dừa và Tép rang nước cốt dừa)
Coconut Rice is another impressive specialty made from coconut trees that you cannot find anywhere else. To create the awesome dish, sticky rice was cooked in a pot to maintain its natural flavor which was different from in a bamboo tube of the way from ethnic groups in the country’s northwest. Adjusting the amount of coconut juice accordingly and choosing the soft, aromatic rice has to require the sophistication and patience of the cook. Xiem Coconut is usually chosen to create the special flavor of this dish due to having tough, fat rice and sweet juice. All of the juice of coconut was taken for soaking with the rice to condense the fresh and sweet of them in each grain, the top piece of coconuts will be used as a lid. Green peas, diced carrots, onion, corn kernel, lotus seed are some other ingredients put into the rice to create more flavor for this dish.
To enjoy fully the palatable taste of this food, roasted shrimps are one of the essential factors. The period before Lunar New Year is considered the best time to start the journey to catch the shrimps for they usually flow from some great rivers to the Mekong Delta from August to January of the lunar year. After marinating them with sugar, salt, garlic, and fish sauce, the shrimps from a lake or a river should be preliminary treatment, then stir-fried with the coconut milk and subtle combination of seasoning to increase their boldness and flavor. In low heat for a few minutes cooking, the shrimp will reach its peak and releases an irresistible fragrance.
Since all rice is steamed in the coconut for about an hour, it is super impressive for you to enjoy the grains of rice as the feeling of eating fresh coconut. Moreover, it is an impeccable combination to combine roasted shrimp with coconut milk for going together with the coconut rice. In the journey to discover Mekong Delta, especially in Ben Tre, you should begin by trying this succulent dish to wallow in the sweetness of this region.
Baked banana with coconut milk (Chuối đập)
As one of the rustic and unique dishes which you should not ignore when having an opportunity to visit Ben Tre, baked banana with coconut milk is known as a tasty dish connected closely with the childhood of many people. It is effortless for you to find the special course sold by street vendors along the street or riverbank in Ben Tre. The bananas are pressed and baked until reaching hot enough, then mixed with the perfect taste of coconut milk for an unforgettable experience. The sweet flavor of bananas combined with the tasty and fat of coconut milk is a delightful experience that you should absolutely try and remember forever.
COCONUT WINE (Rượu dừa)
Being extracted from the sweet aroma characteristic of coconuts, Coconut wine has long been one of the specialties of Ben Tre Province. With the unique, mild, and passionate taste similar to a cocktail, you will not be drunk to enjoy this ethereal wine. The process of making coconut wine requires people to be meticulous, experienced from the stage of choosing the major ingredients. The old coconuts with thick rice and the large, round shell, a wide bottom like a vase, are the essential factors to determine the aesthetics and quality of the wine. After experiencing a severe and extremely elaborate process of extraction, the final product has a perfect combination of the sweet taste of alcohol and the fatty aroma of coconut. Coconut wine is now a very popular and famous product as an impeccable gift for relatives or anybody as it brings a lot of nutritional value with the full of taste. Let enjoy it slowly so you can feel taste sweet, smooth taste blending in your mouth.
There is considerable cuisine that brings the harmony of food and nature in this stunning region. They have become the special symbol of Ben Tre cuisine which obviously reflects the locals and the region’s characteristics. In the journey to discover the beauty and the scrumptious foods, the fragrant, flavorful, and sweet dishes are going to leave an incredible and unforgettable experience, reminding you of the unique taste of this gorgeous land - the capital of coconut tree.