Wandering around the Hanoi Old Quarter in the evening, visitors can easily become intrigued by the appetizing aroma and the greasy sweet taste of sizzling fermented pork rolls grilled on a barbecue over charcoals.
It is well known that the traditional fermented pork roll is not less unique, nor less addictive, compared to the grilled version and that each region in Vietnam brings you different nem chua flavours, all of them are indeed delicious.
Made from rustic ingredients, namely ground pork thigh, minced pork skin, chili, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, salt, which are then mixed, pressed and naturally fermented with tender fig or guava leaves, nem chua has an acquired, highly characteristic, sour, sweet, garlicky and salty taste with a nice crunch of pork rinds.
While the fig leaf cover can be eaten with nem chua, creating a special acrid taste, the banana leaf cover makes its flavor more subtle and attractive. Both traditional nem chua and the grilled version are served with chutney mingled with squeezed kumquat or spicy fish sauce with added lemon juice.
Besides, it is common to enjoy the grilled nem chua with fruits such as star fruit, green mango, or jícama, reducing the fatty taste and also whetting the appetite. Just a look is enough for guests to salivate over the thought of savoring each bite of nem chua.
More interestingly, while nem chua of the north in general and of Thanh Hoa province in particular has a sour taste and a subtle fragrance of fern-leaf aralia, the southern version prefers sweet and spicy added to with powered grilled rice and pepper. Therefore, there are more choices for gastronomists to enjoy.