One delicious specialty visitors should try when they come to Ninh Binh is the local dish of eel noodles.
The main ingredient of this dish is eel. Selecting eels to make a good dish is quite challenging and requires experience.
The highest quality eels are small eels called “luon com” which are strong, fat and fresh.
They have brown-pink backs and yellow bellies. Besides the main ingredient, banana flower and vermicelli are the other important elements. The banana flower should be fresh and ripe.
Vermicelli must be made from high quality phrynium fruits and are small, pure threads.
Eels are washed carefully with vinegar, gutted and mixed with spices like red chili, onion, pepper, “nuoc mam” (Fish sauce) and then fried in hot oil until fragrant and yellow.
The banana flower is cut into thin threads and soaked in salt water to remove the resin and keep it white.
The vermicelli is put into cool water for 5-7 minutes and then fried with mashed onion. Eel vermicelli noodle is often eaten with ginger, “la lot” and lemon juice.
The crispness and pleasant smell of yellow fried eels, the buttery sweet taste of banana flower accompanied with the spiciness of ginger , chilli, and the pungency of “ la lot” with the sourness of lemon juice harmonize in the bowl of eel noodles that makes every mouthful worth dreamily delicious.