Talking about northwestern mountains, specifically Sapa we talk about not only the multicolored culture but also the diverse culinary. We can count the tenderness of grilled hand-carried piglet, the fragrance of seven color glutinous rice… but nothing can more special than the strong flavor of the brown buffalo flesh, water buffalo meat hung upstairs kitchen.
This special food is a culinary creation of Black Thai. To make dried buffalo meat is not difficult but for the best flavor patience and skill is demanded. From the beginning this food appear as a kind of dry provisions for Thai people to bring with them in their trek across the forest or the mountain. So they thought about drying buffalo, cow or pig meat after well marinated when this way of cooking supposed to make food last longer.
They use only the big part of meat as well as muscle of shoulder or back without tendon to make dried buffalo meat. They cut meat into small and long pieces then marinate with salt, chilli, ginger, wild aromatic plant, especially leaves of Mac khen (Indian Ivy-rue), a very special spices is Thai cuisine. Then hung it up above the oven in the kitchen and let the smoke cook it slowly. That is a really long process, about eight months to one year round.
This dried food can turn into an attractive ingredients for a lot of delicious recipe as hotpot, fry, slow cook… But the authentic flavor is always the best with a very unique flavor that no one can resist. For the first time eating this kind of meat, people may find it unbearable because the strong flavor of smoke lasting. Naturally, the meat is probably a little bit tough, but the more you chew the more its sweetness and exotic taste explode in your mouth.
The brown color inside cover a natural beautiful pink of meat. You will never know how good it taste. A light sweetness mixed with the strong flavor of spices make a very attractive fragrance. In a winter day, nothing better than have a taste of grilled buffalo meant hung upstairs kitchen deep in a hot chilli sauce and drink some local homemade corn wine. Such a way of enjoying life.
This delicacy is traditionally reserved for a special event, holiday or a welcoming meal. But now it becomes a famous specialty in not only Sapa but also the mountainous land of northwestern Vietnam. If you have a chance to visit this land, don’t forget to buy this flavorful taste of place as a gift which remind you the cuisine and the culture of people there.