Fragrant grilled meat or delicious sauce with the most exotic and unique with make tourist fall for the one of the most amazing cuisine of the northwestern area. Most people know about the famous reputation of the culinary art of Sapa, but most of them don’t know about the secret about its success, a flavorful spice, Mac Khen.
In reality, its English name is Sichuan pepper, Sichuan peppercorn or Chinese coriander which is commonly used in Chinese, Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian and of course northwestern Vietnam cuisine. Despite its name, it is not closely related to either black pepper or the chill pepper. In Vietnam, because of the strong and fragrant flavor people also call this kind of aroma spice “the pepper of the jungle” other than Mac Khen. But as a matter of fact people have to admit that Mac Khen has such a distinct flavor and aroma that nothing can compare to. And in no doubt Mac Khen is always the soul of the regional cuisine.
See: Good wines must try in Sapa
This typical spice is no doubt a wonderful gift from the jungle. In the season of Mac Khen, minority people come far into the forest to look for this tree. They have to climb up the tall tree to collect many bunch of tiny fruit. But this is honestly such a real challenge with its bark full of thorn the reward is absolutely worth it. Mac Khen bring the best taste when it’s still fresh. Unfortunately, this king of fruit is too easy to be rotten so for reserve, these little bunch will be left in a cool place of hung on the kitchen. After being dried for a period of time the green Mav Khen will be turn into black
It’s not exaggeration to say that this special spice is probably the key secret of the famous gastronomy of this upland area, especially Sapa. From gilled dishes to slow cooked dishes or from daily meals to delicacies in the luxurious restaurants… you can all find the important role of Mac Khen in the recipes like: grilled fish, grilled hand-carried piglet… or even sauce. No matter what food it is, just accompanied with Mac Khen can make sure that you will make you salivating then after a taste it’s an explosion of flavor in your mouth.
As example, if you are a real gourmet, you can try the famous water buffalo meat hung in kitchen. This specialties demand a lot of time to make about 5-8 months long. You guess what? The most important spice is nothing different from Mac Khen. After a long time slowly cook by the smoke, this dried food has a very strong flavor of smoke. But in reality, the distinct aroma of this spice still be the highlight in the feast of flavor of this specialty.
People are always joking that “don’t even try a taste or you will obsess with it”. But I believe that because by looking at the way people from other area in the whole country eager to buy this spice can prove how much the attraction of Mac Khen. In addition, once a tourist have a nice chance to taste the unique flavor and aroma of this Indian pepper, no one can leave this town without buying it as a gift.
Read: Information to know of Sapa – the wonder land