Cellophane noodles are great for New Year hinh anh 1Vermicelli is healthy food (File photo)

Hanoi (VNA) -
As Tet approaches, a group of gourmets from Hanoi have visited the northern province of Cao Bang to seek the best mien dong (canna vermicelli) to make cellophane noodles. The rhizomes of the plant are full of starch.

“Every year we travel to Nguyen Binh’s Phia Den village to buy the Cao Bang specialty," said housewife Nguyen Thi Huan from Hanoi’s Dong Da District. “I’ve tried many sorts of mien from the country’s three regions, but the organic product from Phia Den is the most tasty. It has a sweet flavour and is soft but crispy and firm when cooked.”

Phia Den villager Nong Thi Mung, 68, said:  “God has given us a cool and temperate climate year round and fertile land suitable for planting maize, cassava and particularly cu dong rieng do (red edible canna) which has the most aromatic flavour.”

First, the noodle makers have to choose big and mature dong rieng roots, then clean them and grind them until they produce a flour as white as ivory. The flour is then mixed with cold then hot water until it becomes thick and sticky. It is then poured into a simple gadget with a row of holes that squirt the liquid out onto a moving bamboo frame. They are then dried in the sun for several days.  

Mung said mien dong can be used for many dishes, such as mien ga (chicken vermicelli), mien cua (crab vermicelli), mien ngan (goose vermicelli), mien luon (eel vermicelli) and many others, noting that the Tsy ethnic group to which she belonged often fried mien with wood-ear fungus and mixed it with boiled chicken pieces, onion, lemon and mint. It can also be used to make nem ran (fried spring rolls).

Chicken vermicelli

The dish is always popular at birthday parties, anniversaries of all kinds and particularly Tet. Every Tay family prepares the dish for Tet parties, said Mung.

Cellophane noodles are great for New Year hinh anh 2Phia Den vermicelli is said to be the most tasty in Vietnam (Photo: VNA)

"To make it, I choose a capon between 2.5 to 3kg raised by myself, boil it until it well done and has a fragrant smell. The capon is removed, let cool and then cut into pieces. The sweet chicken broth should be kept simmering on the fire and then being scooped into a big bowl filled with chicken pieces and the cellophane noodles,” she said, adding that the dish should be eaten hot with coriander and pepper.

“Thanks to our high quality Phia Den mien dong, the food is tasty even when cool,” said Mung. In Tay households, any visitors arriving at new year are welcomed with a bowl of mien. This promotes friendship between neighbours and people as long and durable as mien noodles, said Mung, noting that they were considered a valuable gift for relatives and friends.

Mixed fried vermicelli

Mung said all her family liked the dish, although in the past it was only eaten at dinners to remember the departed or during Tet, adding that she never forgets the taste of the dish cooked by her grandfather. The ingredients he used were very simple and contained no shrimps, beef, eels or seafood, but only mien dong (0.2kg), chicken egg (1), pork (0.2kg), carrots, garlic, celery, cooking oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and pepper.

To make a tasty dish, she advised cooks to choose Phia Den vermicelli. "Before cooking, you should soak the miến in water, but only for 10 minutes. After that you should dip the noodles in boiling water and then quickly soak them in cold water to keep them firm so that they doe not stick together when frying.".

Cellophane noodles are great for New Year hinh anh 3A bowl of vermicelli with goose (Photo: dulichcaobang.com)

The last stage is to fry the pork and other ingredients until well done and then put the mien into a pan and fry for five minutes until they are firm and even crunchy. “You should put cilantro-flavored herbs or laksa leaves and pepper over the dish to make it more tasty,” said Mung.

“For Cao Bang people, a bowl of Phia Den vermicelli cooked with chicken, wood ears or fragrant mushroom at Tet is not simply a dish. Eaters experience the flavour of their native land, bringing families closely together,” she said.

Truong Manh Hao, a herbalist from Nguyen Binh district’s Centre for Traditional Medicine, said mien dong helped reduce weight, triglycerides and cholesterol. It was also good for diabetics.
“The root of the dong rieng is a good medicine for tooth pain, hepatitis and ear infections,” Hao said.-VNA