MEKONG DELTA CUISINE
As a long stretch country with a total of 331,210 square kilometers, Vietnam is one of the compelling destinations in Southeast Asia. From the unique beauty of dramatic historical sites to the incredible natural landscape, from the blue immerse rolling hillsides in the north to the hustles and bustling of some floating markets of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam is the manifold option of your magnificent itineraries as well as is an unforgettable adventure with a great number of beautiful experiences.
Each region in Vietnam will propose you the most unique in many different ways. In particular, Vietnamese cuisine which is the most fantastic feature to discover the essence of the country’s culture. Mekong Delta's Cuisine with special, stunning and never boring tastes is considered must-explored in Vietnamese culture. Therefore, let us start your journey by going through a list of numerous best Mekong Delta's foods.
MEKONG DELTA MAIN DISHES
Rice noodles soup (Hủ tiếu) is one of the most well-known dishes not only Mekong Delta but also Vietnam. Especially, due to its ultimate authentic flavor, Hu Tieu My Tho is the delicious cuisine that you should have to experience more than once in your whole life. My Tho city of Tien Giang is the place where this flavorful dish originated from. With the special broth of some ingredients as simmering seared ginger, grilled onion, beef, chicken and pork bones, dried squid, dried shrimp, daikon, etc, make the taste of this dish is rich and sweet perfectly. To fully experience the flavor of this rice noodles soup, people have added some fresh shrimp, deep-fried pork fat and pig liver cuts, stir-fried ground pork, sautéed minced garlic, coriander, green onion and a squeeze of lime. On the other hand, this is also the best options for the vegetarian with a delicious dish of simmered vegetables and mushrooms, tofu, vegetarian sausage, and green bean fried dumplings. So, coming here and enjoy the flavor characteristic of the Mekong Delta!
Fried Elephant Ear Fish (Cá tai tượng chiên xù): As a specialty dish in Mekong Delta, Elephant Ear Fish is added to the list of the must-eat foods that you couldn’t miss when visiting this region. Its name sounds quite extraordinary because this fish's appearance is a little bit similar to an elephant's ear. The whole fish will be deep-fried until has a crispy perfection by the virtuosity chef. To fully experience all of its true flavors of this dish, you have to serve a meaty and soft piece of fish with rice paper, pickles, cucumber, herbs, and then dip the roll in a special sweet-sour fish sauce which made from tamarind, lemongrass, and chili. The sophisticated flavors and incredible tastes of Elephant Ear Fish cannot be exactly described with words, visitors need to experience the flavors yourself in the journey to explore the Mekong Delta cuisine.
A southern Vietnamese savory fried pancake (Bánh xèo Nam Bộ): is the unique pancake of Mekong Delta cuisine. The word xèo represents for the sizzling sound when pouring the rice batter into the hot skillet full of bean sprouts, prawns and pork or chicken. In addition, some other ingredients such as coconut stem, mushroom, seafood, etc. can be added to make the flavor of banh xeo more diverse. The awesome taste of a yellow crunchy crust, manifold fillings, sweet and sour dipping sauce which included fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic and chili will definitely make you fall in love with this delicacy.
Grilled Snakehead fish (Cá lóc nướng trui): Grilled Snakehead Fish is not only a famous dish but also a specialty of Mekong Delta. About a long time ago, it was served as an idyllic dish of South farmers in the countryside of Vietnam after working in the field. Nowadays, grilled snakehead fish has become a flavorful and luxurious dish in many restaurants and hotels for the tourists inside and outside the country to enjoy its natural and special taste. It is easy and simple to find the materials as well as make this delicacy. After people slapped the fishing pond, snakehead fishes were washed with a little salt and without marinated spices. Being pierced with a stalk of lemongrass will make snakehead fishes removed the odor and have a wonderful aroma. People regularly using a bamboo stick pierced from mouth to tail of the fish, then bury them on a dry haystack on fire about 20 minutes and until the ashes. With tender meat and delicious taste, the meat is served with a mixture of salt, pepper or a special dipping sauce made by sweet-sour tamarind and fish as well as vegetables and herbs. With the fragrance of the grilled fish linger on your taste buds, you cannot find it anywhere else will be a wonderful experience in Mekong Delta.
Rice Field Mouse Roasted in a Vase (Chuột đồng nướng lu): Rice Field Mouse Roasted in a Vase is referred to as a delicious and special dish in Mekong Delta, especially the countryside of Dong Thap. If you have a chance to visit Dong Thap from October to March of the lunar calendar, there is a particular feature which you just only find here: rice field mice. During this time, a considerable of field-mice have become fatter because they focus on searching and feasting on rice and freshwater. Therefore, this is the reason why it is safe and tasty to consume some attractive dishes from field-mice. In the past, locals focus on hunting those mice while rice is blossoming and used them for their daily meals as an advantage of local specials because at that time there was not much food in the countryside. However, nowadays, the dish from field mice is considered a high-quality and deluxe delicacy in restaurants and hotels. After being prepared, the mice were marinated with lemongrass and chili for 15 to 20 minutes. The next step is putting them in the roasting vases with the special hangers and grilled for one hour. With their irresistible aroma, the appearance of this dish is nearly similar to roasted piglets or even more special. To taste, they are served with a tasty sauce of salt, pepper, or chili flakes and with green banana, tomato and cucumber slices, and Vietnamese mint on the side. With the unique cooking method and delicious taste, Rice Field Mouse Roasted in a Vase is the special dish you should try to enjoy the best moment in this interesting land.
Freshwater Fish with River Hemp Flower Hot Pot (Lẩu Cá Linh bông điên điển): There are a great number of special products from nature during the flood season which starts in the seventh month and ends in the tenth month of the lunar calendar. If you visit Vietnam with Mekong Delta Tours at this time, you should not miss Freshwater Fish with River Hemp Flower Hot Pot. It is considered a famous dish and spirit of the Mekong River in every flood season. This is the spectacular combination in a hot pot with Ca Linh which is a type of local freshwater fish, and Dien Dien flowers bloom with a light yellow color which is so familiar to Mekong Delta.
As the flood season comes, there are manifold kinds of fish from the Mekong River downstream to the fields to start the breeding season, especially in Dong Thap region. Ca Linh is one of the abundant freshwater products as a main feature for the hotpot.
Having closely connected with the flood season, Dien Dien (Sesbania sesban) flowers are mentioned not only like the yellow flowers which have slightly bitter, but also a beloved specialty from the Mekong Delta. According to Son Nam who is a brilliant writer, Khmer people called the Dien Dien tree as the name of s’nor. After, this name has changed to Dien Dien by Vietnamized way until today.
This delicacy attracts a great number of people in a simple way by its special tasty and its signature broth. A whole feature of Mekong’s delicacies such as coconut water and pork or chicken stock, a few young tamarinds, some local common vegetables such as water lily and especially Mam Ca Linh create an aromatic base for the broth. Every ingredient in this hot pot is miraculously blended into each other, creating that mind-blowing sweetness. Then serving with good fish sauces and chilies are the best way to enjoy the full flavor of the delicacy. As can be said, this is the most unique cuisine for the tourists to their journey to explore the beauty of Mekong Delta.
Long Xuyen Fish Rice Noodle Soup (Bún Cá Long Xuyên): Bun ca Long Xuyen with a clever combination of the local natural specialties is considered as a must-eat dish in the capital city of An Giang. Being originated from Cambodia, Long Xuyen rice noodle soup in An Giang has attracted a large number of locals, as well as visitors, come to enjoy the speciaL and flavorful taste of this course. It is widely imparted throughout An Giang, Vietnam and has been changed to be suitable with the taste of Vietnamese by the main ingredients including snakehead fish, broth, some pieces of roasted pork meat and vermicelli. The rice noodles soup attracts many people by its tasty and sweetness broth which mixed with fish and pork bones, subtle turmeric and lemongrass aroma. Before the Snakehead fish (ca loc) slice are marinated with turmeric rub and other seasonings, they are lightly boiled to no fishiness to the taste. Being stir-fried till it becomes brownish yellow, and then the fish slice put on top of the delicious noodle soup. To experience the full taste, you can serve to accompany some kind of vegetables such as morning glory (Rau muong), water mimosa flower (Rau nhut) and strips of young banana and fish sauce with hot chili. In particular, you can enjoy the special taste of Dien Dien flowers bloom (Sesbania sesban) flowers which is a radiant yellow flower grown wild on the river banks, swamps, and rice fields. These flowers are so familiar to Mekong Delta as hearty gifts from Mother Nature through the flood season from July to October in the lunar year calendar. During the flood season, the fresh Dien Dien flowers are not only served with Freshwater Fish Hot Pot but also when combining with fish rice noodles also bring a very unique flavor. It is absolutely irresistible for travelers who are looking for tasty food.
Bún Nước Lèo: Being originated in Soc Trang province where a large number of Khmer people living, Bun Nuoc Leo is one of the specialties and favorite dishes of the Indigenous Khmer. It is widely spread throughout Soc Trang by using the fermented fish as the main ingredient of Bun Nuoc Leo. Accordingly, the Hoa and Viet also prefer a heady and rich flavor of this dish, so used Mam Sac as the alternative factor so as to preserve the original flavor of Bun Nuoc Leo. The legendary bowl of Bun Nuoc Leo is a remarkable gastronomic force produced by the collision between Vietnamese and Cambodian cooking styles; It’s the broth made from flavorful fermented fish simmering for hours on end is the very element that makes it ahead of Vietnamese noodles game. Additionally, a bowl of Bun Nuoc Leo is also packed with a stunning range of aromatic local herbs. A spoonful of broth with a dab of the herbal scent will surely deliver quite a bang to your taste buds. And to neutralize the unique taste of Bun Nuoc Leo and to look more similar to a local, a cup of refreshing sugarcane is the perfect dessert for this not – for – the – fainted – heart main course. Seating on a plastic stool to only be stunned by the cooking essence of a mixed culture in an urban - mixed -countryside setting is the most beautiful way to put an end to your tiring but full of excitements exploration of Mekong Delta.
Coconut larvae (Đuông dừa): Ben Tre is mentioned as the land of coconut trees, in the trip to visit this gorgeous land, you not only have an opportunity to experience the charming natural beauty with its endless coconut and mangrove forests, vast rice fields, and networks of interconnecting rivers and canals, some delicious dishes with captivating flavors but also with an incredible and awesome dish to discover the taste of the Mekong Delta. Being known as a specialty of Mekong Delta, especially the countryside of Ben Tre Province, đuông dừa are one of the extreme foods should try for your journey to explore this interesting land more complete. This is referred to as a kind of a harmful pest as it hollows out of coconut's tree and lays its egg inside to feeding on the nutrition of the tree. However, it is believed that "đuông dừa" provides much nutrition which tastes so good with the greasy, rich flavor just like a slowly dissolving an egg yolk. There are a great number of ways to enjoy đuông dừa such as deep-fried đuông dừa, grilled đuông dừa, đuông dừa roll with butter powder, steam đuông dừa, roasted salted đuông dừa, đuông dừa boiled in coconut water, đuông dừa’ s porridge. In particular, live coconut worms dipped in salty fish sauce is the most attractive option for travelers who want to enjoy a unique taste. With its rich nutrition and special taste, this delicious will give you unforgettable memory when visiting the Mekong Delta.
Sweet and sour fish soup (Canh chua): As one of the famous Mekong Delta delicacy, Canh Chua is a tasty and tangy dish that usually appears on the day-to-day menu of people in this land. The broth is the perfect combination of sweet, sour and spice flavor, a subtle taste and just the right amount of fat of the snakefish, salty from the fish sauce, plenty of vegetables and herbs which really enhance the flavor. The sour and yet refreshing taste of the soup comes from tamarind which after being combined with a cup of boiling water, they are pressed through a sieve to reserve paste and discard seeds. In general, some other version of Vietnamese sweet and sour soup includes cooking with catfish, or prawns and shrimps. The vegetarian also can choose mushrooms or/or tofu to replace fish for preparing this healthy meal which takes in just 30 minutes. With a large number of seasonal vegetables such as okra, fresh pineapple chunks, water morning glory, bean sprouts, tomatoes, coriander, green onion, and cilantro, this is considered as a healthy option with much nutrition is loaded. It is usually served with the salty flavor of dipping fish sauce and rice as a part of a dinner or lunch menu. This delicious delicacy definitely creates a harmony of flavors in one's mouth.
Scorched rice with Caramelized Fish Sauce (Cơm cháy kho quẹt): Being once considered as a Vietnamese peasant dish derived from the farmers' poverty who just had a large number of vegetables instead of meat in their daily meals, Scorched rice with Caramelized Fish Sauce is nowadays one of an extremely popular and presented for the Vietnamese cuisine culture, especially in Mekong Delta where the original place of this incredible food. Although this dish is the main food of farmers, it's currently become the mainstream in the Mekong Delta family's meals. It can be served as a dip with scorched rice or with steamed/ boiled vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, daikon, okra, and squash. The dipping sauce is the combination of the saltiness of fish sauce and sweetness of sugar in a small clay pot with a small amount of pork, dried shrimp, dried fish, and/or pork fat. The sauce can be added to the chilly, pepper and fried shallots, garlic to have a little bit the wonderful aroma as well as spiciness flavor. One of the decisive features to make the perfect taste of this dish more distinctive and authentic is using the pork fat which is heated until melting instead of using the cooking oil. Then the dip into the sweet and salty sauce with the crunchy fat cubes is absolutely a great experience. Definitely, no travelers have succeeded in their attempts to resist the temptation of Scorched rice with Caramelized Fish Sauce due to its so captivating and fascinating.
Phong Dien hammock shaped fine rice vermicelli (Bánh Hỏi Mặt Võng): On the trip to discover the beauty of the capital of Mekong Delta - Can Tho City, you can admire one of the well-known traditional fine rice vermicelli village in this gorgeous land to get more understanding the way to make fine rice vermicelli in the form of hammock nets that cannot be observed in other places. In the implementation of hammock shaped fine rice vermicelli, the baker needs to have tact skill to create the appearance of the cake as the line crossed into each other like the mesh of hammock. The main ingredient of this cake is from pure rice flour to be fine rice vermicelli with a round nest of small, fine flour threads. To enjoy fully the taste of Phong Dien hammock shaped fine rice vermicelli, you can serve with grilled pork, mint leaves, mint leaves, then dip into the special taste of the fish sauce. It is definitely irresistible for tourists who are searching for flavorful courses.
MEKONG DELTA DESSERTS
Steamed banana cake (Bánh chuối hấp): Banana is considered as a popular vegetable in the Mekong Delta and with many different values. There are a large number of other options for you to enjoy the lovely banana. Steamed banana cake is one of the incredible desserts from ripe bananas that represent the characteristics of rural areas in the Mekong Delta. This type of sweet cake which has rice flour (or tapioca starch) and coconut milk as the main ingredients, usually served with creamy coconut sauce. This is a gorgeous and delicious Mekong Delta cake that you cannot find anywhere else.
Pía cake: Originating from Soc Trang province, nowadays, Pia cake is considered as one of the favorite dishes of Vietnamese people with its addicting sweet taste. Wheat flour, taro, special taste of durian, the greasy and buttery flavor of salted duck eggs, steamed green beans and lotus seed are the main ingredients to make this delicious cake. There are more choices of products of the traditional cake with white pia cake, lard, durian, green beans, and instead of durian by the natural ingredients for the people who cannot enjoy this fruit because of its smell and taste. By sweet taste, the attractive aroma of filling and the softness of a powder, Pia Cake has conquered not only the whole country but also abroad.
Vietnamese fried shrimp cake (Bánh Cống): Originating from Soc Trang province, Bánh Cống has long been a special dish of people in the Mekong Delta. The main ingredients to make Bánh Cống are flour, mung beans, and shrimps. The batter consists of three-fourths of rice and a fourth of sticky rice, all of which are soaked overnight in dilute bittern so that the grains will become softer to put in the grinder. After that, the ground batter is carefully wrung to remove the remaining water. Then it is mixed with a third of wheat flour, some water, and chopped green onion. The fillings consist of peeled and cooked wholegrain mung beans mixed with stir-fried minced pork. The shrimps used to make the fillings must be fresh and have already been washed and removed all the antennae. It is recommended that the shell be kept when fried so that the final product will be crispy and tasty.
After the preparation, the deep-frying step is also very engaging. What needed is a deep-frying pan full of boiling oil. Slowly pour a spoonful of batter into the mold. Then add in the fillings consisting of mung beans and minced pork, pour a little more batter on top and add a few shrimps as the topping. Finally, deep-fry the whole mold in the boiling oil. It is noted that the smaller the fire is, the more evenly crispy the whole Bánh Cống will be. Bánh Cống is served with dipping sauce and some greens. The dipping sauce is a combination of saltiness, sweetness, sourness, and spiciness, with the red from chili pepper, the green from lime and the yellow from papaya.
Coconut Candy (Kẹo dừa): As the province is featured by the image of coconut trees, Ben Tre is also famous for a sweet taste of coconut candy. For a long time, the coconut candy is not only considered as a traditional handicraft product of Ben Tre Province but also a unique cuisine in the Mekong Delta with the sweet characteristic flavors of coconut and own fat coconut milk. Some of the famous coconut candies' brand with various flavors which captivate visitors from near and far are Thanh Long, Tuyet Phung. With different flavors including the 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.
Thot Not rice sponge cake (Bánh Bò đường thốt nốt): As one of the most famous sweet cakes of An Giang Province where grows a large number of palm trees of Vietnamese country, Thot not rice sponge cake is considered as delicious food that you should try when visiting the Mekong Delta. The main ingredients to make this sweet cake is thot not sugar, coconut milk, mashed mung bean, and rice starch. To bring you the sweetest hot and satisfying sponge cake, the cook has to have the expert experience to choose the best ingredients in the preparation process, as well as in controlling the temperature of the steaming heat. To make a dark yellow layer for the cake’s coat, the cook also uses Thot Not sugar which made from the old Thot Not fruit. With an alluring aroma and its fluffy, spongy, and sweet flavor, as well as redolent of toddy palm sugar and coconut milk, which makes tourists cannot resist.
Palmyra sweet soup with coconut milk (chè thốt nốt nước cốt dừa): Being known as a unique specialty of Mekong Delta areas, palmyra sweet soup originated in An Giang province is one popular dessert dish in this gorgeous land in particular and Mekong Delta in general. Palmyra sugar, coconut water, coconut milk, tapioca starch, peeled mung bean and Thot Not fruit cores are the main materials to make this sweet and nutty taste of this dessert. The palmyra fruit flesh translucent light white, nearly similar to the taste of the lychee is referred to as the spirits of this food. It is said to be more delicious to enjoy palmyra sweet soup with coconut jelly and some ice. The greasy and fatty taste of coconut milk, the stickiness, tenderness, the buttery taste of mung bean and sweet palm sugar, typical taste of palmyra flesh will definitely satisfy even the most demanding diners.
MEKONG DELTA TROPICAL DRINKS
Smoothie (Sinh tố): As a mixture of fresh fruits, vegetables, sweeteners or ice, and other supplements, smoothies are considered as the popular drink for quite some time now of the Vietnamese people. This is a healthy version of many fruits which is full of essential vitamins, minerals and rich nutrition to the human body. To enhance the taste and flavor of a smoothie, people may add some milk, yogurt, low fat, cheese, sugar, syrup and honey. There are a large number of version of smoothies which are customized to your taste and nutritional needs such as Green smoothies of many Vegetable like kales, cauliflowers, cabbage, spinach, carrots, broccoli, Tropical smoothies from some tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapple, coconut water, watermelon, soursop, sweetsop, sapodilla, etc, weight loss with low sugar fruits, milk, soy milk, soy powder and etc. The final result is not only a sweet and delicious, but also a colorful and healthy blended drink. It is easy to spot a smoothies stall from every corner of Vietnam in general and Mekong Delta in particular. So, let enjoy it slowly so you can feel taste sweet, smooth taste blending in your mouth.
My Tho sugar cane (Nước mía Mỹ Tho): Being considered as the delicious dishes in My Tho, Tien Giang which is one of the provinces locating in Mekong Delta, sugarcane juice in My Tho is a kind of drink you definitely have to enjoy when you arrive in this beautiful land. Sugarcane juice is popular all over Vietnam, but sugarcane juice in My Tho is a bit different. In this juice, people add peanuts, jackfruit and durian to make it tastier. It is delicious and strange for your first sip to enjoy this glass of sugarcane with jelly.
Vietnamese coffee: Vietnam is the second biggest coffee production in the world after Brazil and has a diverse and creative coffee culture that can be seen in everyday life. Therefore, “ca phe da” or coffee with ice has been one of the most common drinks among the Vietnamese residents as well as international tourists visiting the country, Can Tho city, and the Mekong Delta. In 2014, milk coffee with ice was recognized as one of the top 10 best drinks in the world by Bloomberg News. Coffee is a portion of Vietnamese everyday life. There are three uniquely Vietnamese ways of drinking coffee:
Cà phê đen đá – Vietnamese Black Coffee. As a combination of a super-concentrated drip coffee on the bottom of a cup with a number of ice cubes, a little of sugary milk as the addition depended on one's hobby, traditional Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee will have the super strong and fairly bitter flavor.
Cà phê sữa đá – Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Sweetened Condensed Milk. Cà phê sữa đá is one of the popular and awesome ways to enjoy Vietnamese coffee. This is done by mixing a strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk and some ice cubes to make a special and sweet taste on your mouth.
Bạc Xỉu – Vietnamese Condensed Milk Coffee is traditionally made with finely ground coffee and individually brewed through a small metal Vietnamese filter called a phin cà phê into a small cup. The special drink takes slowly releasing drops of hot coffee into the cup contained with about 2-3 tablespoons of creamy thick sweetened condensed milk depending on your hobby.
No matter where they live, North, Central or South, most Vietnamese people have a habit of drinking a cup of coffee in the morning Sometimes it might be a cup of dense and lingering black coffee with ice but sometimes decorated with some sweet milk flavor.
Coconut water: Since Mekong Delta is known as the land of the coconut, coconut water is a very popular beverage with the typical taste of tropical fruit in this gorgeous land. It is the clear liquid inside of mature green coconuts which is not to be confused with typical coconut milk. It is also considered as a healthy drink with some potassium which is absolutely necessary for heart health and good skeletal and muscular function. In the past, coconut water was also used as a source of salt for Vietnamese soldiers, because coconut water contains salt, sugar and other ingredients that were good for their health. With a sweet and nutty taste, coconut water is the best option for travelers to enjoy in the hot summer day.
Rice wine: (Rượu đế)
It is unknown since when rice wine appeared, but it has been a common reference in Vietnamese literature and poetry for hundreds of centuries and generations. Rice wine is a must during any special occasion such as festivals, banquets, weddings, parties, etc. and is a source of motivation connecting people closer and closer together. Therefore, wine rice is considered an indispensable part of the Vietnamese people and a beautiful aspect of Vietnamese culture.
Rice wine made from sticky rice is traditionally referred to as “ruou de,” which literally means wild sugarcane rice wine. It has been told by the Vietnamese elderly that the traditional rice wine had been there since the first settlement, most used for offerings and meetings. Since the French colonies established a governing system in the Southern region in 1867, they banned any activities of making and drinking rice wine of the Vietnamese and forced them to drink Western wine. They even selected some tax officers to hunt down “contraband wine.” The rice winemakers had to dig a hole within those bushes of de, which is a kind of wild sugarcane that grows a little taller than a man, to hide the rice wine, hence the name “ruou de.”
How does it make?
Rice wine is made from the method of distilling rice and fermenting them to a certain extent. It is called “ruou gao” in the North and “ruou de” in the South. The majority of rice wine is produced in the factories or those households embracing the tradition of making rice wine. First, white rice is cooked, crushed, mixed with water and yeast, and placed in storage for fermentation. After a certain period and temperature, the fragrant rice wine gradually formed, but it has to be carefully distillate to meet those requirements related to quality and hygiene. Depending on the flavor of each region, rice wine might have differences in terms of taste and concentration, but the original ingredients are always kept the same.
The role of rice wine in Vietnamese everyday life
The first and foremost application of rice wine made from sticky rice in the Mekong Delta is to use in offerings and special occasions. When making offerings for their ancestors, deceased grandparents, parents or relatives during Tet and holidays, the Southerners have to use rice wine and not any beer or Western wine. The offerings of temples, funerals or age anniversaries require a tray of betel quids and rice wine as a ritual and rice wine made from sticky rice is mostly used. Other traditional offerings such as visiting the deceased soldiers and making offerings for occupational or military purposes also use rice wine. Southern weddings usually have gift trays for the bride’s family and there must be at least a tray of rice wine, tea, betel quid, and area nut. It is best to wrap the rice wine containers in red paper for good luck. Noticeably, during the offerings in death anniversaries, sacred temples or Tet holidays, the offered rice wine must be refilled four times in the small china cups. When done something wrong, the Southerners also buy a set of rice wine to make up for their mistakes.
MEKONG DELTA FRUITS
In the rainy season (end of April - middle of November)
Rambutan (Chôm chôm): Rambutan is one of the exotic and extreme fruits in the Mekong Delta with its mildly sweet flavor and very pleasant to eat. Rambutan brings the absolutely unique feature of the Vietnamese language because of its name. The name rambutan means messy hair, referring to the spikes on the skin of the fruit. You’ll find them fresh from May to August. With the pleasant fragrance and taste similar to the lychee, also the slightly acidic and sweet of strawberry, you will enjoy the tasty white flesh of the fruit by your finger to open and peel off the skin. The firm soft white rambutan fruit is considered as a healthy fruit with a large number of vitamin C and other nutrients.
Mangosteen (Măng Cụt): Mangosteen is considered as one of the most delicious fruits in Vietnam in general and in Mekong Delta in particular. The mangosteen season is short, just about two to three months from May to August. Although the exterior is quite hard, inedible and having the color of the dark red rind, inside of the Mangosteen contains a subtle flavor and a refreshing balance of sweet and sour. The soft, tangy and sweet interior will make you surprise, then delight by this special taste. However, you should pay attention to the latex or sap of the mangosteen because it may linger on your hands or your clothes for a little time. Mangosteen is also a healthy fruit due to a lot of antioxidants and vitamin C. If you have a chance to explore Vietnam as well as the Mekong Delta, this fruit is one of the best options for you in your journey to find the good food as its sweet will makes you want more and more. It is the subtle taste, definitely!
Langsat (“bòn bon” in the Vietnamese language) is one of the popular fruits from the Central to Mekong Delta for its aroma and sweetness. It is recognizable by its round to oval which actually looks like little potatoes, thick, hairy outer skin, and very sweet and succulent. Inside with 3-5 segments carrying (or not) a citrus seed, this fruit is intensely flavored and a subtle hint of sourness. A special feature of this delicious fruit compared to other fruits is that we have to leave its coat from the bottom to the peduncle. To enjoy this fruit, you should care about its sticky pus when using your hand to peel it. Harvest time is in late summer, between July and October. When you discover the Mekong Delta, do not forget to enjoy this delicious fruit. Surely you will love it.
Durian (Sầu riêng): As considered as the king of fruits since this fruit is used for conquering a pretty girl by the emperor, Durian of especially Mekong Delta is the best one in Vietnam. Durian is a very special fruit because just a few everyone can enjoy its taste because it is said that durian has an unbelievable smell which is described variously as almonds, rotten mushy onions, turpentine, overripe cheese, custard, and gym socks! However, there are a great number of people actually fanatically love this smelly fruit by its very sweet yellow flesh, the smell of distinctive, lingering, and persistent. Durian typically has the large in size up to 12 inches long, weighs 3-6 kg with a thorny armor. Moreover, thank to its function, durian can cure a number of diseases. Durian is such an awesome fruit due to its flavor, appearance and it is definitely an option for raw food enthusiasts who usually love them.
Jackfruit (Mít): As considered as the little sister of durian due to the vivid similarity in their appearance, jackfruit is one of the most popular fruits in the Mekong Delta. Jackfruit is in season from May to the end of August. This fruit is easily recognized by its large size and many thorns in the looking outside. The color of the skin will change from green to yellow and dark brown it ripens. The sweet savor of this fruit is similar to the taste of some other fruits as pineapple, mango, and banana. There are large numerous variety of dishes made by jackfruit, in raw or cooked recipes which mixed with chicken, pulled pork, or other meat-based meals. The seeds of this fruit are also cooked with a special taste. Moreover, jackfruit abounds many kinds of nutrition as well as an excellent source of vitamins A, C and B, and calcium, zinc, and phosphorous for health and preventing diseases. If you travel to the Mekong Delta, you should taste this delicious fruit, and surely you will remember its aroma forever.
Around the year
Bananas (Chuối): Being known as a yellow lengthy fruit with smooth-skinned and grow in clusters of 50-150, banana is one of the famous fruits in Mekong Delta. You can find them in larger numbers on the banks of the Mekong River with a height of up to about 2 - 3 meters depending on the variety. Banana fruit is available around the year in the local wet market of this stunning land. Banana is a good source of energy, with large amounts of fiber, potassium and some beneficial vitamins for health. Normally, their color changes from green (underripe) to yellow (ripe) to brown (overripe).To taste them, you can eat fresh by stripping peel or usual serve as a dessert by mixing with salad, ice cream, or even fried the green banana to make crunchy slices of dehydrated banana. Banana juice, liquor, sweets, low alcohol beer are also some products made from banana.
Dragon fruit (Thanh Long): With its special outer skin resembling the scales of a mythical dragon, Dragon fruit is one of the famous Vietnamese fruit as humid and tropical conditions such as Vietnam is the good condition for the growth of this plant. Also known as cactus fruit, pitahaya or pitaya, dragon pearl fruit, strawberry pear, Dragon fruit is actually sweet and crunchy and has a sweet-tart flavor. Red skin with red flesh, red skin with white flesh and yellow skin with white flesh are some popular kinds of this one depending on the cultivar type. Dragon Fruit season is available all year round. There are large amounts of nutrition in this fruit such as carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron, phosphor, water, fiber and vitamin C, B as well. To enjoy this flavor, You can eat fresh by cutting or scooping the dragon fruit into pieces, put them into a blender with a bit of pineapple or orange juice, some ice cubes to make smoothies, fruit salad, or make a dragon fruit sorbet as well.
In Dry season (middle of November - end of April)
Sapodilla (Sa Pô): Specially grown in the Mekong region, Sapodilla is truly delicious fruits and famous in this region. With the size of kiwifruit or an egg, Sapodilla has a thin-skinned, and heavily rusted brownish grey, but it becomes smooth on ripening. This sweet fruit has a brownish tinge skin, does not change color much from young to ripe. By its yummy, sweet, delicate flavor, this distinctive fruit is considered as a spectacular combination of apple, peach and banana. Sapodilla can be harvested all year round, especially taste in September – May of the following year. This fruit is a good source of energy with large amounts of sodium and low in fat. You can cut them in half, scoop out the flesh and remove the seeds to enjoy the fresh, or mix into ice-cream, custard, and smoothies, or maybe add to cake and pancake mix. It is actually a healthy option for just about everyone.
Mango (Xoài): The Mekong Delta soil is one of the best places to produce a great number of mango fruits. With its rich nutrition, unique flavor, pleasant fragrance, mango fruit is the delicious seasonal fruits that are so popular in this gorgeous land. Fresh mango season lasts from October to July, but taste best in the early summer months. Green is the color of the unripe mangoes which have a mild tartness. With its delightfully sweet and full-bodied, the ripe mangoes have the light yellow in color, or crimson red, yellow or orange-red depending on the cultivar type. In particular, one of the best-known varieties of mango in the Mekong Delta is Hoa Loc mango. This kind of mango is very sweet and aromatic savor, full fleshy and less fibrous which you should try for the journey to discover the Mekong Delta.
Watermelon (Dưa hấu): Known as a sweet summer fruit that’s delicious and nutritious, watermelon is one of the popular fruits in the Mekong Delta. With its thick green outer and fleshy fresh red pulp inside, watermelon is not only a great cool treat, but it also loaded with stuff that’s good for your health. There are some awesome options to enjoy this sweet fruit, special smoothies for the hot summer day or simple dessert in your daily meals. A cold, juicy slice of summer’s favorite melon is the amazing thing for the journey to explore the Mekong Delta.
Tangerine (Quýt): Tangerine is a kind of indispensable fruit in your must-eat list in your Mekong Delta journey. With its smooth yellow skin, this fruit is considered as a specialty in the Mekong Delta. Thanks to its slightly sweet and unique taste, it becomes the favorite fruit of both local people and inbound and outbound tourists. Normally in order to enjoy a fresh tangerine, the fruit can be served raw or used to make delicious jam.
Star apple/ Milk apple (Vú sữa): As being called "Vu sua", which means "milkful breast" or "breast milk", Star apple is one of the fruits that have the most marvelous taste of Mekong Delta. There are some popular variants of star apple, purple to red or yellow to green in color. Star apple is in season from February to April. With its smooth, leathery skin, thick sappy inner rind, you will enjoy a sticky sweetness as a fragrant milky juice of the fruit. It is also said that these fruits have the combination of the tropical sweetness of apple, lychee, and persimmon. The best way to enjoy this fruit is by cutting the fruit into two equal parts, then a spoon is used to enjoy it a bit after bit. Before enjoying this ripe fruit, you should softly squeeze it to experience all the juicy goodness.