Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Rice noodles, deep fried tofu and shrimp paste (Bún đậu)

One of the most trendy rice noodles dishes in Saigon! I don't know why! Originated from Hanoi, but recently became a sensation among the youth in Saigon, people keep posting on their Facebook as proudly announced that"I just tried it - a Northern flavor!"

                  Bún đậu - rice noodles with deep fried young tofu and shrimp paste at 55 Phất Lộc, Hanoi.

Today I will take you to taste this simple traditional dish, not anywhere in Saigon but in their real homeland! Hanoi! The original bún đậu in Hanoi.

I love tofu. Not because of my diet.
I love shrimp paste. Because of its strong and unique flavor.
I love rice noodles, too. Better than rice!

                Fresh rice noodles in Hanoi, braided as a leaf (bún lá) different from southern ones.

                  A bowl of bún đậu, don't forget to add some leaves of Vietnamese balm, much tastier! 

           Dip sauce - mixture of shrimp paste, kumquat juice, slices of chili, small spoon of tofu-frying oil.

So bún đậu is my perfect choice! The only thing here, eating bún đậu in the cold days in Hanoi, right on the street - no way we can do it in Saigon! Especially when the special herbs - Vietnamese balm (kinh giới), water mint (húng láng) from Hanoi, served with bún đậu, are so fresh, so flavorful.

                    Bún đậu can be served additionally with fried young rice ham or cooked pork meat.

                 Additional plate of fried ham with young rice (chả cốm) 

              or cooked pork meat that I didn't try as the golden tofu look more irresistible!  

Bún đậu is one of the most popular morning street foods in Hanoi, esp. in the old quarter. Everywhere I go, I meet a street vendor with a small pan of oil, a basket of rice noodles and slices of golden tofu on a small rack over the pan!

                Bún đậu vendor in Hanoi, while waiting for customer, reading newspaper! 
                   Now busy to serve customer, a final touch -  spoon of tofu-frying oil to the dip sauce.  

If eating right on the street, you will be served bún đậu in a medium-size tray, with everything on it! Just squeeze some drops of kumquat to your sauce, dip rice noodles, piece of tofu or ham into the sauce, don't forget the herbs! The simple combination of various flavors: hot, tasty tofu, cold, fresh noodles, strong, spicy, sour, a bit sweet dip sauce and nicely smell from herbal Vietnamese balm...makes bún đậu very unique, esp. in the cold weather in Hanoi. It reminds me a feeling of joy when I tried my first freshly hot panini, while waiting for my friend in the old quarter of Paris during the winter! Such a pleasure!

           Tray of bún đậu in the street, later my friend took me to a famous eatery for bún đậu at Phất Lộc.

                Busy street of Tràng Tiền, during lunch time, a tray of bún đậu - only 30,000 VND! 

These days, a big new trend among Vietnamese, esp. the youth, they love to try new things, to discover different flavors from all corners of Vietnam. It's really good, like this noodles with tofu, but at the same time - media in Vietnam also criticizes that the youth seems careless about what they eat or drink! Is it harmful or not, even when a warning about the lemonade served on the street where they spend hours and hours to "tám" (a new slang for gossip!), it's just a mix of bad chemicals.  

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