Vietnamese cuisine: Specialities of Huế (Part 1)

1. Mussel Rice

Cơm hến (mussel rice) is a Huế specialty enjoyed by locals from Hue, others from Vietnam, and foreign visitors alike. Specifically, Hue is known for its breakfast specialties. The main ingredients of this particular dish include cold rice and small mussels to which roasted peanuts, sesame, shrimp paste, roasted pigskin, chilli, onion, and various raw vegetables are added. All these ingredients combine to create a unique sweet and spicy flavor.


2. Salted rice

A frugal meal of cơm muối (salted rice) is the on the daily menu for poorer residents. However, the mandarins at the royal court in Huế regarded this dish as a specialty, reserved only for the most distinguished of guests. As such, today, many residents of Hue still express their hospitality to close friends by serving them salted rice. Cơm muối includes husked rice and refined salt served with chilli, lime, pepper, and lemon grass. After harvesting, farmers husk the rice without removing the bran and ensure that the grains do not break. Thereafter, they cook the rice in a small earthen pot. Finally, they roast, simmer, or fry salt with the other ingredients and spices to create a dynamic dish of salted rice. The rice is usually served in antique-style bowls.


3. Huế Noodle Soup

If one had to pick one dish most emblematic of Huế, it would be bún bò (rice noodle soup with beef). Huế residents prefer to buy their bún bò from street vendors rather than in restaurants. Street vendors carry bún (soft, thin white noodle) and bò (slices of beef) in two bamboo baskets hanging from poles balanced across their shoulders.


To be continued…


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