The five extremely unique delicacies with strange names in Dak Lak
The mountainous Dak Lak not only attracts tourists to its wild beauty of mountains and majestic clouds, but also the unique dishes that only when coming to this land will you have the opportunity to try. Here are 5 specialties of Dak Lak that are worth a try when you come here.
This dish holds many cultural characteristics of the M'nong people. The ingredients to make “thut” soup are comprised of wild vegetables from the mountainous Central Highlands - including gnetum leaves, dried beef skin, baby cane, bitter eggplant, stream fish or meat and bamboo tubes.
“Thut” soup is the unique dish of Dak Lak. Photo: vietravel.com
The process of preparing this dish is quite complicated. Firstly, the dried beef skin will be grilled until soft, while the baby cane is chopped into small pieces. After that, all the ingredients will be put inside bamboo tubes to be cooked directly in the flame. In the process, the bamboo tubes will release a kind of water which will mix with the internal ingredients to create a unique flavor for the dish, which is uniquely sweet and bitter. After the soup is finished, it will be thick, viscous and fragrant.
The finished “thut” soup. Photo: dantri.com.vn
This is a simple, but popular dish of the people in Dak Lak. If you have the opportunity to visit this land, you will easily learn that every family has a few bitter eggplant plants to eat all year round. When you taste this kind of eggplant, you can feel its rich and crunchy flavor.
Bitter eggplant can be used to make a variety of dishes such as fried dried shrimp, stewed meat, water spinach soup, stewed stream fish and so on. Of all the dishes, the most special one is bitter eggplant with buffalo skin. To make this dish, the cook has to carefully choose ingredients: the eggplant must be delicious (neither too old nor too young), the best buffalo skin should be selected from a 3-year-old buffalo. For the dried buffalo skin, it will be grilled and then beaten by a knife until soft. Next, cut the buffalo skin into 2-finger pieces and put them in a pot to boil until they are soft. Remove this water several times until the broth is clear, and then add the bitter eggplant and bones to the stew them altogether; add a little salt, monosodium glutamate, chopped wild betel leaves and green pepper. The dish has very unique flavours created from the bitter taste of eggplant, the richness of the buffalo skin, the aroma of wild betel leaves and the spiciness of the green peppers.
Bitter eggplant cooked with buffalo’s skin is a very strange dish. Photo: thanhnien.vn
The name of this dish has left many people excited and curious for its “strangeness”. It can be noted that the dish won the first prize at the Southern Land Culinary Festival 2018, and it was also on the nominated list of 100 delicious dishes of Vietnam. So what's so interesting about this dish?
Ingredients of Vech. Photo: tienphong.vn
Vech is a dish of the Ede ethnic group, and in the Ede language it refers to the first part of the small intestine of a herbivore. The intestine still contains gastric acid and the grass that the animal ate whilst alive. You may feel worried about the hygiene of the dish, but don’t worry, as the mountain wildlife only eats grass and forest leaves, so their guts are very clean.
The intestines will be blanched in boiling water and the gastric acid inside will be removed. Next, the cook will pour in some water and settle it until condensed before seasoning the liquid with spices. At this stage, Vech has become a special ingredient which can be used to marinate with skin, tail, meat and beef cheek, together with spices (such as chili, chives, lemongrass, galangal, wild pepper and forest seeds) to increase the richness of dishes. The dish has a fragrant aroma of the spices with the greasiness of meat, creating a very unique taste.
The unique Vech of the Central Highlands people. Photo: baolangson.vn
If there is any funeral in the village, Vech will be used to cook with bitter eggplant or colocasia esculenta for the neighbors.
Grilled chicken of Don village
This is a very typical dish in the culinary culture of Dak Lak that any visitors coming here will want to try once. You can enjoy grilled chicken in many provinces of Vietnam, but there is a big difference compared to those in Dak Lak.
The most important ingredient is the chicken in Don village - which is carefully raised in the garden. The selected chickens are usually newly grown-up chickens with the standard weight of more than 1 kg. On the one hand, if the chicken is too big, the meat will be tough, but on the other hand, the meat of small chickens will not be fragrant. The chicken will be cleaned, and the organs will be taken out, cleaned and then marinated with salt, chili, wild honey and lemongrass juice. After about 0.5 - 1 hour, the chicken is sandwiched in bamboo sticks and then roasted on a charcoal fire. During the grilling process, the chicken must be rotated continuously until it turns to be yellow, shiny, and fatty.
Grilled chicken with rice cooked inside the bamboo tubes. Photo: vietravel.com
Grilled chicken of Don village should be enjoyed with lemongrass salt or chili salt, so you will be able to completely feel its sweetness and spiciness. If you want to be fully filled up, you should eat the bamboo-tube grilled rice, which is also one of the specialties of the Central Highlands.
“Le” bamboo shoots
Belonging to the bamboo family, "Le" bamboo shoots are quite popular in the “red land” of the Central Highlands. The bamboo shoots will be cut from the top of the tree, and it can be used directly or sliced to dry. Bamboo shoot connoisseurs affirm that “le” bamboo shoot is the best among all kinds of shoots in the bamboo family, for example bamboo or cane, because it is thick and sweet, and not bitter.
“Le” bamboo shoots are the best among all kinds of shoots. Photo: dulichvietnam.com.vn
Not only can “Le” bamboo shoots be used to make salad, it can also be used to cook with duck meat, stew with pork leg or stir-fry with liver. For the dish “Le” bamboo shoots with duck meat”, the duck will be cleaned and rubbed with ginger, old parts of the shoots will be removed, chopped into long thin pieces and boiled. Next, chop the duck, boil the meat in water with low heat; add spices and “le” bamboo shoots in the stew until the duck and bamboo shoots become soft; add some spring onion and fried shallots and then turn off the heat. Put the duck soup into a bowl, add a little pepper and you can enjoy it with fragrant fish sauce with ginger.
Only when coming to the villages in the Central Highlands can you have the opportunity to enjoy “le” bamboo shoots cooked with dried venison, served with wild-herb salt. Despite being a folk dish, it will definitely win your hearts over with its richness and sweetness.
Pork leg stewed with “le” bamboo shoots is also a dish worth trying in Dak Lak. Photo: mytour.vn