New cuisine in Hanoi helps Vietnam to become a red spot for culinary

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					New cuisine in Hanoi helps Vietnam to become a red spot for culinary

                                     Dried bamboo and cassava noodles make up some of northern
                                     Vietnam’s most important dishes

                                     Mang kho and mien make up the two most important soups of the
                                     traditional Tet feast in the North Vietnam.

                                      Mang kho (dried bamboo shoots) and mien (cassava noodles) are
                                      both dried naturally and the drying process preserves them
beautifully; you don’t have to worry that your bamboo or cassava will go bad for a long time.

Canh mang kho (dried bamboo shoot soup) and soups made with mien (often chicken noodle soup) both
combine dry textures with fresh ingredients and herbs for their unique flavors.

Because mang kho and mien are light and somewhat soft and porous in texture, they absorb the flavors
of the other ingredients in the soup: chicken or duck and/or pork, spring onions and moc nhi (black, or
“cat ear” mushrooms).

After the war when food and money were scarce as Vietnam struggled to recover from the worst bombing
campaign in history and then a suffocating American embargo, busy working mothers bought bundles of
mang kho and mien in advance before Tet (Lunar New Year Festival) while prices were still cheap before
holiday inflation. A northern Vietnamese Tet feast is not complete without these two dishes.

Mang kho and mien can absorb a lot of water and they become about three times larger in volume during
the cooking process, another plus for cooks struggling to make ends meet.

Mien is made of cassava powder. Besides various mien-based soups, then noodle is also an important
ingredient in nem ran (fried spring roll).

The most traditional mien dish is mien ga (cassava noodle with chicken broth and shredded chicken). The
dish is set at the family altar during Tet, and in various arrangements at funerals, death anniversaries and
other special occasions.

During Tet, northerners keep the water they boil their chickens in to use for mien ga. Boiled chicken meat,
as well as boiled chicken heart, stomach and liver, are shredded and cut into small pieces before being
placed in the bowl.

After soaking the dried mien in water until it becomes softer, northern cooks then cut it into shorter pieces
and add it to the hot water pot. Moc nhi and spring onion are cut into small pieces and also added to the
pot to help bring out the flavor of the chicken.

Mien is very fragile and soft and it takes only a few minutes to cook it. The cook needs to make sure the
noodles don’t boil too long in order to maintain the right softness.

After arranging mien in a bowl, my mom would add shredded chicken meat and chicken liver on top
together with coriander. The soup looked almost as delicious as it tasted.

Nowadays, people also cook mien with duck and it is served all day long at some Hanoi restaurants. The
subtle taste of mien also goes well with crab meat. Mien cua (stir-fried mien with crab meat) is a new dish
served across Hanoi.

Fried tofu, and spring onions often accompany mien cua in Hanoi.
During protein-rich meals chock full of pork pie, beef pie, boiled chicken and sticky square cake, mien is a
light and delicate dish for people avoiding heavier foods, or those trying to save room for later during
daylong Tet feasts. At Tet, mien is often served alone but some people like to have it with a side of
steamed rice.

With its ingredients usually cut into very slim and small pieces, mien remains subtle in flavor. But mang
kho offers a combination of rawness and softness that is a bit sharper. The shredded dried bamboo
shoots are cooked in chicken water for hours, or even boiled in a pot with pork legs and pork ribs.

If you have the chicken water already, it takes only a few minutes to cook mien (which is normally the last
dish cooked just before the Tet feast). But it takes hours to cook canh mang kho (dried bamboo sprout

The mang kho is first soaked in water and boiled for hours until it becomes soft. Then it is shredded into
smaller pieces by hand before cooking

Similar to mien, mang kho can be cooked with chicken water or pork chops. But it takes many hours to
cook, and my mom would always start preparing to cook a big pot of canh mang three days before the
Tet feast. Then, with each meal throughout the festival, we’d have a portion of the re-heated soup
invigorated with fresh chicken water.

For more information about Vietnam Culinary or travel tips and advices, please visit Vietnam Tour

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Description: Dried bamboo and cassava noodles make up some of northern Vietnam’s most important dishes