A food specialty that Nghe An has up its sleeve
Banh muot is similar to banh cuon in the north and banh uot in the south, but gourmets swear by the Nghe An twist.
Alongside several dishes that are considered specialties of the central province of Nghe An, like its eel preparations, there is a lesser known dish called banh muot.
To have this dish at its best, gourmands visit the coastal district of Dien Chau, where many families have been making the dish for generations. For locals, this is a breakfast staple.
It is not yet five in the morning and the day is yet to break, but in Dien Chau people have already started fires in their kitchens.
To make tasty banh muot, the most important step is to choose the rice. In the past, Dien Chau residents used rice grown in the province’s Quynh Luu District. Nowadays not many families prefer this variety and have switched to plain rice. The rice is soaked for 3 hours before it is ground and soaked again for another 3 to 6 hours.
After adding boiling water to the ground rice from the previous day, the cook strains the mixture and gets the flour to make the banh muot. A thin layer of cloth is spread tight on the steam pot on which the dish is made. Keeping the fire on high and the water boiling, the cook uses a ladle to scoop the flour and spreads it thinly on the cloth, closes the pot with a lid and waits for the cake to cook.
This is very similar to the way banh cuon and banh uot are cooked, but the texture and thickness of banh muot sets it apart.
The thickness of this “cake” depends on the skill of the cook. After it is steamed, the cake is taken out, rolled, cut and placed in a basket lined with banana leaf sections.
Residents usually squeeze lime juice into fish sauce to make the dip for banh muot. Vegetables and banana stems are served on the side. You can also have banh muot with duck, chicken or beef stew and stewed pig’s offal (heart, liver, heart, kidney, stomach, and blood cake).
To make the stewed tripe delicious, the ingredients must be fresh. After cleaning, the ingredients are mixed in a hot pan and seasoned. The last step is to add water and wait until it boils.
Banh muot is usually cut to the length of a finger. It is white, soft and not sticky. The cake is served hot and has a pleasing aroma.
Many places serve banh muot with a basket of fresh vegetables or pork patties to enhance its flavor. If you have the chance to visit Nghe An, remember to try this lesser known local specialty.