Monday, August 06, 2012

Worm cake with shreds of pork skin! (Bánh tằm bì)

Worm cake sounds really scary, but don't worry it's not made from any insects!
It's another speciality from Mekong Delta, like bánh xèo, bánh khọt...and looks like the big noodles that I prefer calling them "Vietnamese udon"!

              Bánh tằm bì - worm cake with shreds of pork skin, greased green onion!

I said "speciality" from Mekong Delta because this worm cake never go without coconut sauce! That's the big difference between Southern and Northern cuisine. Here in South, especially in Mekong Delta - the coconut sauce is an important ingredient to enrich the taste, from the main course, to the sweet course, but never in North!
And as it's named - bánh tằm bì, it's always topped with shreds of pork skin, mixed with some cooked pork meat () which is a part of our famous broken rice!

             Served with herbs (basil), cucumber, pickled carrot and white radish! 

Worm cake (tằm) is thick and a bit harder compared to another "udon", made from rice flour and served without any soup. Hand made bánh tằm, when people spin dough into the tằm, is considered the best quality!
It's hard to describe the taste of bánh tằm bì, it's a combination of different flavors: sweetness from rich coconut sauce and fish sauce, savory from pork skin, cooked pork meat, tasteful greased onion, mild from worm cake, freshness from cucumber, aroma from Vietnamese basil...
I like bánh tằm bì, probably because of the unique and tasteful mixture of pork skin and coconut sauce that we never have while eating our broken rice!

                 Worm cake (bánh tằm) is made from rice flour, better rice, better cake! 

Bánh tằm bì is served with spicy sweet fish sauce and coconut sauce! I know that many of us try to avoid coconut sauce these days, but no way not to add tasteful coconut sauce, otherwise what we eat is no longer bánh tằm bì!

                Sweet, spicy fish sauce mixed with pickled carrot & white radish, next to coconut sauce! 

Bánh tằm bì is popular but not easy to find a good place to taste bánh tằm bì, only at some specific eateries. It's not like bánh xèo that has been promoted widely in town for many many years.
But I'm quite sure that we can find bánh tằm bì in Bến Thành market, or at Thanh Bình - a popular eating spot mostly for tourists, right behind Bến Thành market!  
But for locals no Bến Thành, no Thanh Bình...we have some other places that offer better bánh tằm at a good price! Check it out!

Bánh tằm bì Đồng Tháp at 352 Nguyễn Trãi, district 5  
Bánh tằm bì Tô Châu at 271 Nguyễn Trãi, district 1 (opposite of City plaza) 

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