Among things to do to have a whale of time in Sapa – the paradise on earth, it’s indispensable to profoundly study the out-of-this-world local gastronomy there. In this article, I will list three of most desirable specialties consisting of “heo cap nach”, “ga den” and “xoi bay mau”. These Sapa dishes will “knock-down” even the most discerning eaters for sure!
Heo cap nach
Funny as it may sound, this dish was named after the way the animal has been carried to marketplace – they grip it under their arm! ( “heo” means pig; “cap nach” means carry under people’s armpit). From that name, you can easily figure out the size of them ranging from 20-25kg so that the pigs are neatly kept and transported. When it comes to this mammal’s origin, it’s great to know that they are hybrids between warthogs and Muong pigs (Muong – an ethnic minority of Vietnam).
Slow-roasted heo cap nach
Strangely, the offsprings are rubbed and fed sometimes with salt to keep them from foraging too far from home. They are totally free range and that’s why the meat is highly valued for its firmness and sweetness, also even treated as medicine. The most gorgeous dish is cooked with the chiseled sterilized mature male. Try it out and you will have an unforgettable memory with this unbelievable kind of pork.
This dish is made of black chickens, ( and believe it or not, this kind of bird is black from feathers to flesh and even its bones! Some folks have been scared the hell out of them with the thought of chewing flesh of an animal with “swarthy complexion”. But wait, don’t judge the book by its cover! Your jaw would be dropped to the floor by the tenderness and pleasant fragrance. There are ways to turn this bird into incredible must-try dishes but roasting is still on top of them. You cannot resist yourself to the crispy skin, and still moist meat. Try once, and you will die for the next times.
Roasted ga den
7-color sticky rice
As described in the name, this sticky rice have 7 separate colors in total: green, scarlet, blue, purple, yellowish green, yellow, and dark red. A huge question arises in some curious minds: why 7? Legend has it that in the fight against invaders lasting 7 months from Jan to July (in lunar calendar), most of warriors bravely sacrificed resulting in an eventual victory. In tribute to this event, locals cook seven-color sticky rice as a reminder to the fallen on 1st July annually.
7-color sticky rice
The technique to make this nice dish is extremely delicate. Raw rice is “dyed” in solutions made from edible herbs for hours to have perfect hues. One small mistake and disaster will appear. Because of the super hard work to make this eat, we should feel privileged on trying it out. Make a journey to the northern area of Vietnam in Tet holiday and it is believed that you will be granted good luck for the entire year swallowing a chunk of this traditional specialty.