Tuesday, 30/10/2018 09:16

Time-tested hủ tiếu recipe brings fame to Sa Đéc

Local celebrity: A bowl of hot hu tieu that has brought fame to Sa Dec.
Viet Nam News

by Duy An

The city of Sa Dec in Dong Thap Province is not only well known for its bewitching ornamental plants and bonsais, but also for its specialty dish hu tieu: noodles with pig’s bones, fresh shrimps and many other accompanying flourishes.

I had known for a long time that Sa Dec is famous for the dish, but I hadn’t tried it until I was recently invited by my friend named Nguyen Ngoc to visit her home in Sa Dec.

Right after my arrival, Ngoc invited me to eat hu tieu at Sam’s shop on Tran Hung Dao Street. The shop is although small, but was already crowded with diners from everywhere in the country. I also saw a group of foreign travellers were enjoying the dish.

Tasty pig: Char siu roast pork is one of the main ingredients of hu tieu Sa Dec. Photos baotintuc.vn

Sam’s shop is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, living up to her motto: tasty and affordable price. Despite ups and downs, her dish has won a spot in the memories of several different generations of both locals and visitors.

Sitting next to us was a woman named Ho Thu Huong, 70, who said, “I’ve been an addict of Sam’s dish for several decades. It is my favourite breakfast because it’s so tasty and delicious but with an affordable price (from VND 6,000-10,000/bowl) to be suitable for all classes of people including poor labourers.

“Sometimes, the shop is so crowded that I have to wait for half an hour. But I still patiently try to wait to enjoy a hot and fragrant bowl of hu tieu,” she said, adding that she especially loves the dish’s broth and the noodles.

After Sam died in 2001, her daughter Tang Kien Hung became the owner of the shop which continued to carry her mother’s name.

She told us that in the past, her mother had to wake up at 3 am to prepare the food on a charcoal stove. Now, they use a gas cooker. “We can wake up one hour later to simmer pig bone with dried squid,” she said.

Old noodles: Hu tieu noodles are from the hundred year-old Tan Phu Dong craft village.

Hung said all ingredients in her hu tieu are ordered from prestigious suppliers, such as rice powder from a hundred year-old traditional craft village of Tan Phu Dong. Other ingredients like pig bone and pork meat to make char siu, green bean sprouts, quail’s eggs, fresh onions, celery, scallion and turnip are purchased early during the day. Spices such as quality fish sauce, oyster sauce or soya sauce, vinegar and sesame oil, have also been ordered from prestigious suppliers since her mother started the job more than half a century ago.

Hung is right. Her dish is so excellent that I could see that it was very different from other suppliers of the meal.

I although had hu tieu in Ha Noi and some other provinces, I realized that thanks to the special rice powder from the century-old craft village of  Tan Phu Dong, Hung’s dish becomes tastier than others.

The sweet broth, the mixed fragrance of milky coloured but soft and crispy noodles, fresh shrimp and other ingredients make the dish special.  

“It not only hooks local people but also foreign travellers,” said a couple of Australians sitting next to my table. During their week-long stay in Sa Dec, they ate hu tieu every day.

Yum: Apart from hot hu tieu, the dried version in Sa Dec is also a must-try.

Tran Thi Kim, one of the major noodle suppliers from the craft village said the noodle, which helps to create fame for the Sa Dec dish, is made from a special rice (locally known as gao ngang) that can only be planted in her Tan Phu Dong Village. This powder helps to keep the charming flavour of the original rice.

“We supply hundreds of kilogrammes of noodles without chemicals or additives for wholesale and retail dealers including hu tieu sellers like Hung every day,” Kim said.

Jury board member of Viet Nam Master Chef Pham Tuan Hai told Viet Nam News that he also addicted to hu tieu Sa Dec. It is not only a tasty meal but also a food enriched with vitamins, calories and nutrition. It is very good for weak patients and children to improve health, particularly the digestive system.

Hu tieu Sa Dec is now on the list of must-try tasty specialties of Vietnamese culinary traditions. We continue to help Sa Dec to promote the dish to the world to attract more visitors and travellers,” Hai said. — VNS


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