Nguyễn Thị Sáu’s stall is one of numerous stalls and restaurants that sell Quảng Nam’s dishes in the neighborhood around Bà Hoa Market in Tân Bình District.
Compared to others, the six-year-old stall is a sparse establishment with only a long table used as a counter and three small tables to serve customers.
Its menu is simple with just two kinds of rice pancakes:
Bánh đập and bánh bèo, which are often eaten as snacks.
But Sáu’s stall is always crowded with customers who come for the snacks that are made with native, distinctive recipes.
Bánh đập, which is literally translated as cracked/smashed rice pancakes, is made with two kinds of rice papers:
The white, thin and kind of sticky (usually called bánh ướt – wet rice pancake) one placed on the dry, crispy, brittle one.
Its topping is dried chopped shallots and fresh shredded spring onions fried in peanut oil, giving the pancake a fatty taste and a good smell.
Bánh đập is typically eaten by breaking it into pieces (hence its name), and dipping it into a sauce whose ingredient is mắm ca1i – a kind of fermented and salted fish paste that is native to the central region.
Like other sellers, Sáu adds chopped garlic and red chili, and sugar to the sauce to tone it down, but she also adds sliced shallots which are fried in oil.
Her sauce has a good balance between the sweetness and saltiness, a balance that is rarely found at other stalls, and even fancy restaurants.
Dipping a piece of banh dap into the signature sauce, one is easily struck by its strongly contradictory textures and tones.
The second dish sold at Sáu’s stall is bánh bèo (steamed rice pancakes), which is among the most popular dishes in Huế’s cuisine.
However, unlike its Huế cousin that is small and thin, Quảng Nam’s bánh bèo is thick and big.
The topping is also different with a thick and red mixture of chopped pork, peanuts and crushed small shrimps fried in flour, instead of dried shrimp, shredded spring onions fried in oil, and bread crumbles.
Sáu, 60, said she cooks the topping mixture with peanut oil brought from Quảng Nam and already processed with chive bulbs which are also a native plant.
The simplicity and nativity of Sáu’s recipes has not just provided a taste of home for Quảng Nam natives, they have also made believers of people from other parts of the country.
Bánh đập, bánh bèo bà Sáu
2B Ca Văn Thỉnh Street, Ward 11, Tân Bình District, Hồ Chí Minh City
7 a.m. – 12 a.m.; 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Bánh đập (VND8,000/each)
Bánh bèo (VND13,000/dish)
By VŨ GIANG
Source: Thanh Niên News