Food & Drinks
Ha Giang is not only famous for its gorgeous landscapes, typical habits and customs, but also for its food specialties. Food which is made natural ingredients with a distinctive cooking method is without doubt the thing that enthralls tourists most in Ha Giang.
1. Steamed egg rolls
Ha Giang is a mountainous area in the Northwest of Vietnam that has extremely cold climate. This is why the local people prefer to eat hot food and Steamed egg rolls is one of them. As its name refers, this dish is made from egg which is well steamed and rolled up. Steamed egg roll is also eaten with the pork bone based sauce which suprisingly enhances the flavor of the dish.
You just have to pick up a piece of thin egg roll that looms the red of soft-boiled inside with chopsticks and dip it into the dipping sauce to enjoy.
2. Au Tau rice gruel
Au Tau rice gruel will irrefutably change your normal standard of rice gruel.
In a winter night, a bowl of Au Tau rice gruel is an amazing treat for all people. Au Tau is the combination of the delicate sticky rice, buttery taste of caltrops stewed with broth and fragrance of fennel with a hint of port based broth. Don't shy away from the combinations that sound unique or different, it's a sweet secret that you will not disappoint when exploring.
You can easily find a food vendor with sign selling "Au tau gruel rice" or "Cháo Ấu Tẩu". The food is mostly served at night with a reasonable price.
3. Thang Co
The aroma of cardamom seeds and lemongrass, mingled with the flavor of grilled pork will make any tourist fall in love with this dish. Thang co is sold in many food vendors in the Dong Van market at a cheap and cheerful price. The food is absolutely unreal as it's only served in Ha Giang with a unique taste. Thang Co usually served on a long wooden table with salt and red hot pepper and people here like to sit on their heels and hang out with their friends.
The local people usually have Thang Co with Khen wine. It's such a traditional way of eating in this highland area.
4. Bac Me bamboo sticky rice
Bac Me is another kind of sticky rice in Ha Giang. Bamboo sticky rice has a simple recipe with the ingredients of well soaked sticky rice, ground water, bamboo sections and banana leaves. They mix sticky rice with salt then put this mixture into bamboo section together with water. They cover the mouth of bamboo by dried banana leaves then grill these bamboo packs directly on charcoal for one hour. While grilling, you need to turn around the bamboo packs and make sure they are well-cooked.
To eat that dish, you need to peel away the bamboo cover to take the fragrant sticky rice inside. In the past, the food is only for women after childbirth as bamboo sticky rice is believed to prevent people from aluminium or pig-iron of pots. Currently, it's widely eaten by all people, especially well-liked by tourists.
5. Grilled alga
To many people, alga seems to be a normal underwater plant without any function. However, to Tay ethnic people, this plant is the main ingredient of one of their well knwon specialties.
The dish made from alga names Que. This food has a high nutritious level for our health. Big algas are usually chosen to cook as it offers the better taste and value. After collecting alga, local people bring it home and carefully make it free of sliminess and dust. Then, they will cook the alga in different ways.
Though it’s easy to find alga here, there is not much good alga to eat and you should eat alga in right seasons. Alga can be cooked in different manners as stir-fried alga, dried alga or grilled alga.
Tay people usually say: ”Quẹ chí áp, táp chí hơ”, this sentence means if you want to grill alga, you will have to press it against charcoal so that alga can be well cooked without fresh liquid dropping down. You needn't turn alga regularlly but you have to grill in turn from one side of alga to another. You can check out whether alga is well cooked or not by touching it and feel its softness. Because algo only provides a good taste in the right season, the locals also dry it under the sun and stove it up on smoking shelf.
6. Five-color sticky rice
People who live in Northern mountain area have an extremely diverse and unique cuisine. In particularly, five-color sticky rice which converges not only the traditional values but also the meaning concept of the universe, Ying and Yang philosophy and the lofty and beautiful meaning of human livelihood.
This dish is made from rice that has 5 different colors; red, yellow, green, purple and white. It's an absolutely perfect architectural masterpiece of sticky rice that you can hardly see in other lands.
You can see this dish at every market in Ha Giang.
There is only on erecipe to make this dish but the color can be changed depending on different areas. The main ingredient is the sticky rice. 5 colors are made from other natural components as followed: red color is made from Gac, green from tree leaves, yellow from tumeric and purple from Sau leaves. Before dying rice, they soak rice into water for 6-8 hours and divide the mixture into 5 parts; each part is covered with one color. After dying rice, the cook steam 5 parts of rice into 5 different pots. The food is served in a flower shape or in small tower with different color of layers.
7. Thang Den
It is a great experience to enjoy a bowl of Thang Den in Ha Giang. Thang Den looks like the dish of floating cake in Hanoi or Cong cake in Lang Son. It is made of sticky rice flour with the filling peas. Flour will be kneaded into sphere shapes and boiled in a hot pot of water. When you see it float on the water surface that means it is well cooked and it's time to take them out of pot. The dish is coated with a sprinkling of sugar with an extra sweet kick of coconut milk.Toppings combime with sesame and peanuts.
8. Bac Quang orange
For years, thick-skined orange has become a most famous specialty of Bac Quang and the second famous specialty is tea. Thanks to the fertile land and climatic conditions that nowhere else has, orange here has a typical and sweet flavor that is a symbol of southern mountainous area of Ha Giang.
9. Chinese sausage
Lean and fat pork are main ingredients of chinese sausage. These ingredients are cooked with pepper, honey, sugar and white wine to create a memorable flavor for every foodies from the first taste. To make a hand-to-mouth sausage, you need to focus on the time of soaking meat and the heating level of fire.
The materials using to dry the meat and sausage are not easy to find. They must be flower coal, sugar-cane dregs, rice husk, fresh cinnamon leaves. If you use coal, the coal must be made of cinnamon tree-trunk and even better it must be fresh. According to the experts, because of higher gain, many people use beehive coal which is harmful for our health. Many kinds of wood contain toxic that is not safe to use to smoke; it might cause stomachache in some cases. Therefore, to keep us in safe, the cook must use flower coal or the coal made of cinnamon tree-trunks to smoke meat.