Enjoying simple but delicious dishes in Hue

Enjoying simple but delicious dishes in Hue

Thua Thien Hue 15.03.2021

Hue is not only famous for being a poetic ancient capital land with massive mausoleum system, but its cuisine also has unique features attracting domestic and foreign tourists.

Translated by nguyendo

Written by thyltp

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The peaceful and romantic beauty of Hue. Photo: dulich365.org

The ideal time to visit Hue

The characteristics of Hue weather in each season is quite typical. During the summer (from March to August), it is scorching hot, with the temperature reaching 40 degrees Celsius sometimes. The rainy season (from October to February of the next year) is often associated with heavy rainfall and floods. In the winter, the cold is also very harsh, with it only reaching 9 degrees Celsius on some days.

That’s why the most appropriate season to come to Hue is spring (January - March) or autumn (August - October) with the comfortable weather, neither too hot nor too cold.

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Shimmering Hue Citadel at night. Photo: abatour.vn

What to eat in Hue?

Rice with mussels

It would be a pity for you not to try this dish when traveling to Hue. According to many legends, rice with mussels was a typical dish throughout the Nguyen dynasty and was offered to the king as a “royal dish” in the past. Today, it is a common dish of Hue street food.

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Rice with mussels is a simple but famous specialty of Hue Citadel. Photo: kenh14

This dish is made from popular ingredients such as white rice, mussels, fresh pork fat, sesame, peanuts, mixed vegetables (giant elephant ear, herbs, mint, coriander, star fruit, banana heart and banana stem). Firstly, white rice must be cooked from the previous night, and you must let it cool down before making the dish the following morning. Mussels must be collected in Con Hen and soaked in 3 days to remove mud. Before soaking them in rice water, you have to put the mussels in rainwater in hours to "balance the yin-yang elements". After this period, boil the mussels in about 30 minutes, add fresh ginger slices and then take them out, keep the broth and get the meat of the mussels. After stir-frying the mussels with rice vermicelli, sliced dried bamboo shoots and pork belly, you can put it on a plate with white rice.

The full serving of this dish includes rice, mussels, vegetables, peanuts, cracklings and some shrimp paste. Before enjoying the dish with the sweet broth, you need to mix the ingredients together. The deep taste of mussels, greasiness of cracklings, freshness of vegetables and richness of shrimp paste contribute to the uniqueness of the dish “rice with mussels”. This popular dish can be found in many places in Hue with very reasonable prices, ranging from VND 10,000 - 30,000/bowl.

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The price of rice with mussels is cheap, but they are extremely delicious. Photo: kenh14.vn

Hue beef noodle soup

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Hue beef noodle soup has a unique flavor - different from those in the northern or southern of Vietnam.

Photo: @cookingwithmamamui

Hue beef noodle soup is said to have appeared under the reign of Lord Nguyen Hoang (around the 16th century), in Co Thap village, Huong Dien district, Thua Thien Hue province. Different from the beef noodle soup in the north or the south of Vietnam, the Hue’s dish has its own flavor. The noodles used in making this dish must be produced in Van Cu village in Hue (with a history of about 400 years of making vermicelli) because of their toughness and fragrance, compared to ones made elsewhere. The broth will be simmered from the bones to sweeten, and then a little shrimp paste is added to deepen the flavour and the aroma. The beef selected to make the dish can be shank boneless or flank steak with bright red color. Crab rolls and pig blood curd will make the bowl of Hue beef noodle soup more delicious and attractive.

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A full serving of Hue beef noodle soup. Photo: @joy.2.my.tummy

Hue beef noodle soup will be served with raw vegetables, lemon and chili sauce. From a distance, diners can feel the typical scent of the dish from lemongrass and shrimp paste. When you enjoy the dish, it will make you “surprised” with fragrant sticky noodles, sweet broth and attractive toppings such as beef, crab rolls and fresh vegetables. You can also add some hot chili to whet your appetite. All of the ingredients create a unique flavor that you cannot forget.

Hue bloating fern-shaped cake

Bloating fern-shaped cake is considered a familiar “snack” in Hue. The similarity between the shape of the cake, and the water fern, gives the name "bloating fern-shaped" to this special cake. The small and beautiful cakes come with various toppings, such as dried shrimps and cracklings, served with sweet and sour fish sauce, which will impress diners from the first taste.

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Hue bloating fern-shaped cake is simple but attractive. Photo: dulichvietnam

The main ingredient of the cake is rice flour that is soaked from 4 to 6 hours, so as not to make the cake chewy and sour. When making the cake, you have to remove the white sediment on the surface of the dough and then pour warm water into the mixture and stir gently. To make the fillings, you should select the fresh shrimps, then boil and peel them. Next, stir fry the smashed shrimp with oil and garlic until it is dry. Put the flour in small bowls with a thin layer like the leaf of the water fern, steam in about 8 minutes. When it turns the milky color, you can add dried shrimp, fried shallots and cracklings.

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Hue bloating fern-shaped cake with the filling of dried shrimp is the familiar breakfast dish of local people.

Photo: halovietnam.vn

It can be said that the sauce will determine the level of “deliciousness” of Hue bloating fern-shaped cake. It is quite difficult to combine the fish sauce and other spices to balance the level of saltiness and sweetness. When eating, diners can slowly feel the taste of the cake mingling with the sweetness of shrimp, the greasy taste of cracklings and the sweetness of the dipping sauce. Hue people do not use chopsticks but thin bamboo sticks when eating this cake. This has led to the saying "bamboo knife and stone bowl" to indicate the right way of enjoying Hue bloating fern-shaped cake.

Khoai Cake

This is a very famous dish in Hue which always attracts many tourists. Khoai cake is quite similar to the southern crepes of Vietnam, but its shape is different. With a thicker base and smaller size compared to the southern crepes, Khoai has a round shape as people use a mold when frying the cake.

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An attractive serving of Khoai cake. Photo: huesmiletravel

The cake is mainly made from rice flour with egg yolks, and then the mixture is poured on a cast iron pan with a diameter of about 15cm and thickness of 2-3cm. Next, add bean sprouts, raw sausages balls, fresh peeled shrimps and spring onions, then wait until the cake is golden and take it out. The fried cake is fragrant with a golden color, and it is often folded in half on a plate.

The dipping sauce is also very important because it is considered the "soul" which makes the dish delicious. The sauce made by Hue people is often sophisticated, which is processed from more than 10 spices and special ingredients such as pork liver and pork lean mince. Spices which can be listed are shallots, garlic, roasted sesame, peanuts, soybean paste, shrimp paste and monosodium glutamate.

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The delicious cake is folded in half on a plate with a typical Hue thick sauce. Photo: huesmiletravel

Khoai cake is served with lettuce, herbs, fig and sweet star fruit. The crisp and fragrant flavor of the base, the deep taste of sausage balls and the shrimp, coupled with the rich sauce will leave you an unforgettable aftertaste.

How to travel from Da Nang to Hue

To go from Da Nang to Hue, you can choose between three main means: coach, train and motorbike.

Train to Hue

There are many trains from Da Nang to Hue with only seats or a mix of seats combined with beds. The ticket price is also quite cheap, only about VND 70,000/person/turn with a travel time of around 2-2.5 hours.

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Thien Lam Pagoda, a new check-in location in Hue. Photo: dulichvietnam.com.vn

Coach

There are a variety of coaches from 4 seats to 40 seats as well as high-class Limousines transporting passengers to Hue with the travel time of about 1.5 hours.

Motorbike

This is an option for those who want to have an active backpacking tour. If you ride a motorbike, it will take you about 2.5 hours to reach Hue. The road to Hue is in good condition, beautiful and safe.

Transportation within Hue city

While you can choose to ride by taxi, you can rent a motorbike to be more active in terms of time with the rental ranging from VND 100,000 to VND 200,000/day. Besides, you can choose cyclo, which is also a convenient means to help you feel the idyllic and rustic scene, to move around the city.

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In addition to motorbikes, visitors can rent a cyclo to visit Hue city. Photo: baolaodong.vn

Hue cuisine does not require the “high level of sophistication”,  but always impresses visitors with the unique “rustic” taste.