Bun - Vietnamese Vermicelli
|Vietnamese vermicelli is a luxurious as well as a popular dish. There are different varieties of vermicelli depending on their shape: bun roi or stirred vermicelli, bun mam or twisted vermicelli, bun la or vermicelli paper, and bun dem tram or shreded vermicelli.
Different ingredients can be served with vermicelli: grilled pork meat, fried rice cakes, snails, fried eggs, lean meat pie, chicken, and crab soup, to name a few.
Each region and locality, even each restaurant, has its own vermicelli dishes with their own recipes.
There are different kinds of rice vermicelli dishes: vermicelli with grilled pork (bón ch¶), vermicelli with paddy crab soup (bón riªu cua), vermicelli with snails soup (bón èc), vermicelli with pork ribs soup (bón sên), and vermicelli with chicken, pork paste and egg (bón thang), etc. Each dish has its own flavour and taste and all of them are very good. But among the vermicelli dishes, bón thang is the most famous one.
Everyone who sees a ready-to-serve bowl of bón thang on the bamboo bench in §ång Xu©n Market would want to try one even though he is not hungry.
Hanoians aged over 50 still remember the saying that "you are not a Hanoian if you have not tried Ms. Am’s bón thang or Ms. Quý’s, Ms. NghÜa’s bón ch¶ at §ång Xu©n Marketplace". There, the tasty bón are served by the beautiful ladies. These vermicellis were famous not only in Hanoi, but also in H¶i Phßng, H¶i D¬ng and even in Sµi Gßn. Visitors to Hanoi usually choose to try bón at the mentioned foodstands.
The lady selling bón thang at that time was well dressed and charming. She smiled at the customers while gently dipping the bowls into boiling water, then clean them with a white towel. She placed some chopped onion and fragrant knotweed on the bottom of the bowl, then she put vermicelli in to bowl and added other ingredients on top. Those ingredients include thin slices of fried egg, chicken, boiled pork pie and dried shrimp. In the middle of the bowl is the yolk of a salted egg surrounded by slices of red-colour sausage. The bowl of bón thang now looks like a flower with the egg yolk as pistil.
At the end, she ladled boiling hot stock from a big pot and poured out to warm up the vermicelli. Only then, did she fill the bowl with another portion of hot stock.
Bón thang served in the restaurant is quite expensive, but truly delicious. Home made bun thang is not so tasty. Housewives claim that you must have up to 20 ingredients to make a good bón thang. That is why the bón thang lovers prefer going out to eat it at this famous restaurant. Shrimp paste sometimes can be also added to the bón thang to suite individual taste.
In the past, bón thang and b¸nh cuèn were supposed to be the food of upper class. Nowadays, they have become common dishes and are served at marketplaces or street corners. Still, their taste and attraction remain the same. Hanoians still consider bón thang to be their own speciality.