Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, distinguishes itself from other major cities with its unique culinary identity. Authentic Hanoian dishes are a combination of ordinary ingredients and immensely complex preparation. The most famous examples would be Pho, La Vong fish-cake, and Banh Gio (Vietnamese Rice Pyramid Dumplings). Like other Hanoian delicacies, Banh Gio is a commoner’s food available at every winding corner of this bustling city. Locals enjoy such tasty treat at any time during the day, as a filling breakfast or a snack for the afternoon delight.
The ingredients required to make Banh Gio in Hanoi is simple and available throughout the year. The filling includes pork’s shoulder meat, wood-ear mushrooms, and Vietnamese shallots. The outer skin is a dough mixture made from rice flour, salt, and water. Lastly, banana leaves are used to wrap everything.
A close-up at the favorite delicacy
How to transform the ordinary ingredients into a mouth-watering masterpiece of food is a painstaking and labor-intensive process. Firstly, prepare the filling by chopping the pork and the mushrooms together. Stir-fry the chopped ingredients with Vietnamese shallots, then season with fish sauce and black pepper to taste. After that, combine rice flour, salt, and water to make the dough. Some vendors replace regular water with pork bone broth to enhance the sweetness and the “meaty” flavor of the dumplings. Knead and stir the mixture over heat until it forms a thick, white dough. As for the wrappers, the banana leaves are cleaned and blanched to soften. Spread the rice dough onto a piece of banana leaf, followed by a spoonful of the cooked filling, then wrap in a pyramid-like shape. Lastly, the dumplings are boiled for 60 minutes and served.
Local vendors preparing Banh Gio
This recipe acts as a framework for vendors and sellers, based on which they do their twists and takes, eventually put their signatures to the common dish.
The best way to learn about food culture is to imitate the locals and take a bite of the dish. Only then can you fully acquired the amazing taste as well as the story that went into the making of such mouth-watering foods. So, buy yourself a Banh Gio from a street vendor or any eatery that is in your sight, have a seat or enjoy it as you go.
If you choose to eat Banh Gio at an eatery, there are things that you should keep in mind. First of all, they will provide you with plastic stools to use as both tables and chairs to maximize the captivity of the establishment. Secondly, there are two options that you could choose to have your Vietnamese Rice Pyramid Dumplings: plain, or with “toppings”. The plain one is often served with pickled cucumber, while in the “toppings” option, your dumplings will be served with a variety of pork sausages. We always recommend the second choice for you to have the full experience, but if you want to save room in your stomach, eating it plain is just as fine.
Banh Gio in Hanoi with “toppings.”
Banh Gio is a commoner’s dish, which can be found anywhere in the labyrinth of Hanoian streets. However, eating at long-standing and famous establishments may ensure a fuller and safer experience. The followings are the most well-known Banh Gio Eateries to Hanoian locals:
Bánh Giò cô Béo - 5 Thuy Khue Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi.
The biggest Banh Gio in Hanoi, with lots of fillings and side dishes.
Open time: 7 am - 8:30 pm
Price range: 12,000 VND - 27,000 VND
Bánh Giò Đào Duy Từ - 16 Dao Duy Tu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
Open time: 9 am - 7 pm
Price range: 15,000 VND - 38,000 VND
Bánh Giò Đông Các - 33 Dong Cac Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
Open time: 7 am - 7 pm
Price range: 15,000 VND - 32,000 VND
A local grabbing a quick snack
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Hanoi is a city of sophisticated cuisine, but the dishes that it offers do not always for the beginners. So, Banh Gio is a stepping point to experience the bold and the extreme spectrums of the Hanoian culinary scene. It is foreigner-friendly but still retains the cultural charm of the authentic culture. Also, these dumplings come at a budget. So, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to have your bite right now!
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© Written by Dũng Trần for itourvn.com