Vietnam is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, but one dish that stands out as a favourite among locals and tourists alike is Banh Cuon. This rice noodle roll is filled with seasoned ground pork or shrimp, wood ear mushrooms, and fried shallots and served with a sweet and savory dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. In this article, we will explore the history, preparation, and variations of this beloved dish that has been satisfying hunger pangs for generations.
History of Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon has been a staple in Vietnamese cuisine for centuries, with its origins dating back to the Hanoi area in northern Vietnam. The dish was initially made by street vendors who would use a large pot to steam the rice noodles and then wrap them around the filling, creating a roll. Over time, the dish evolved, and different regions of Vietnam developed their own unique versions of Banh Cuon, with variations in the fillings and dipping sauces.
Northern-style Banh Cuon
Northern-style Banh Cuon is the traditional version that originated from Hanoi. It is made with a filling of seasoned ground pork and wood ear mushrooms and is served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, and garlic. The rice noodle rolls are thin and delicate, allowing the flavors of the filling and dipping sauce to shine.
Central-style Banh Cuon
In central Vietnam, the filling for Banh Cuon is typically made with shrimp and pork, and the dipping sauce has a more sour flavor profile. The rice noodle rolls are thicker than the northern-style Banh Cuon and are often served with a side of fresh herbs and lettuce.
Southern-style Banh Cuon
Southern-style Banh Cuon is the spiciest and most flavorful version of the dish. The filling is made with ground pork, shrimp, and a variety of spices, including chili powder, cumin, and coriander. The dipping sauce has a spicy kick to it and is often served with sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts.
Making Banh Cuon is a labor of love, but the end result is well worth the effort. Here’s how to make it:
- Start with a steamed rice roll cooked on a pot, covered by thin fabric, until it is very thin.
- Then, scrape off the roll from the pot with a flexible bamboo stick.
- Next, fill the roll with a mixture of pork, wood ear mushrooms, onions, and fish sauce.
- Roll up the Banh Cuon tightly and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Serve with a side of fresh herbs and lettuce and the sweet and savory dipping sauce.
When and Where to Eat Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon is typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack in Vietnam and is best enjoyed when freshly made. Street vendors and small shops across the country serve this delicious dish, but some of the best places to try Banh Cuon include:
- Hanoi: Banh Cuon Gia An (20 Le Van Huu) and Banh Cuon Ba Hoanh (66 To Hien Thanh)
- Hue: Banh Cuon Hanh (39 Phan Dang Luu)
- Ho Chi Minh City: Banh Cuon Hai Nam (11A Cao Thang)
In conclusion, Banh Cuon is a beloved food of Vietnamese and a must-try dish for any traveler visiting Vietnam. With its soft and delicate rice noodle rolls filled with a variety of flavorful fillings and a sweet and savory dipping sauce, Banh Cuon will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.