The northern province of Ha Nam is famous for many delicacies offered to the King in the past, such as Vu Dai village braised fish, rice vermicelli soup with perch, Phu Ly rice rolls, Binh Luc crab dipping sauce and Dam village’s banh chung.

Braised fish in Vu Dai village

Of these specialties, one cannot help but mention the famous Vu Dai village braised fish, once chosen as the king's dish and now sought after by "gourmet" diners. 

This dish uses the main ingredients of black carp, pork belly and country spices. Each pot of fish is slow-cooked for many hours, even for days, on a wood stove.  

The finished braised fish is delicious, has an eye-catching brown color, and has soft bones and firm meat, with no fishy smell.

First of all, villagers have to choose clay pots carefully. Clay pots are made in the Central Province of Nghe An while lids are made in Thanh Hoa Province. Only carps with the weight of 4 kilograms are used for braising the famous dish. Additionally, villagers use 15 natural spices to cook the village’s age-old specialty.

Once the fish has been cleaned, two or three slices of fish are embalmed with lemon juice, ginger, galingale, broth made from pig bone and traditional spices of the village before it is braised for at least 12-16 hours straight.

Perch vermicelli soup

Vermicelli with perch is one of the most popular specialties, and tourists must enjoy it once if they have the opportunity to travel to Ha Nam.

According to locals, this dish was once offered to the King and gradually became famous thanks to the broth made from perch bones, which has a meaty, sweet flavor. It is difficult to confuse it with any other noodle dish.  

The perch is seasoned evenly and caramelized. Perch vermicelli is cooked with vegetables, spinach or water celery, depending on the season.

Visitors can enjoy this dish in the city of Phu Ly. The popular addresses are Phu Ly fish vermicelli (157 Tran Hung Dao Street) and Hien Hoa fish noodle soup (196 Nguyen Van Troi Street). Price per serving is VND 25,000 - 30,000.

Phu Ly rice rolls

Phu Ly rice rolls are a simple but delicious dish, as famous as other specialties in the region, with a price of only VND20,000 - 25,000 per serving (Photo: Van Anh).

Different from the rice rolls of other localities, Phu Ly rice rolls are coated with two thin layers of eight oval rice flour. The people here also make two types of rice rolls, which are bare rice rolls or unfilled rolls and wood ear rie rolls.

Phu Ly rice rolls are enjoyed with fragrant fried onions, sweet and sour fish sauce, and grilled pork patties or pork bologna. At any time of the day, the dish is popular among people of all ages. 

Famous restaurants for rice rolls are Linh Chi (No. 5 Tran Phu), Huong Dinh (120B Quy Luu), or Thai Thang (273 Ly Thuong Kiet).

Binh Luc crab dipping sauce

In Ha Nam, there is a famous fish sauce with a characteristic flavor that is both pungent and spicy, with a strong aroma, and loved by both locals and diners. That is Binh Luc crab dipping sauce.   

After being caught, the crab is washed and peeled before being ground. During the pounding process, cooks season with fine salt, galangal and crushed ginger.

The sauce is dotted with boiled vegetables such as water spinach, sweet potato, ... (Photo: Bach Hoa Xanh, Vinpearl).

Immediately after the fish sauce has been mixed with a moderate amount of salt, the sauce is fermented in a jar and dried until it is ready. The finished fish sauce has an eye-catching dark brown color with the aroma of galangal, a salty taste, and a pungent taste from ginger.

Banh Chung from Dam Village

As one of the five most famous villages for making banh chung (stuffed sticky rice cake) in the North, Dam village in Liem Tuyen commune, Thanh Liem district, Ha Nam province has a tradition of making banh chung that has lasted for hundreds of years. This is a Ha Nam specialty that contains the aroma of glutinous rice, the fleshy taste of green beans mixed with a bit of fat, and the richness of pork. 

Along with familiar and rustic ingredients in their homeland such as green beans and pork, the people of Dam village make fragrant, rich and famous banh chung (Photo: Traveloka).

In Dam village, local people make banh chung from glutinous rice from Hai Hau (Nam Dinh Province), mixed with yellow flower sticky rice to make the cake.

In particular, banh chung in Dam village does not use well water to cook but must be cooked with rain water. In addition, the boiling pot must be corrugated iron to boil the best batches.

Linh Chi