Thai Binh’s bun bung hoa chuoi a hit far and wide

The Red River Delta province of Thai Binh is home to many traditional specialities such as the popular dish bún bung hoa chuối (rice vermicelli soup with pork ribs and banana flowers) that is a favourite of locals and visitors.


Thai Binh native Nguyen Thi Ut, 64, who has been selling the dish for 30 years, said different from other bun bung soup in the north with main ingredients such as doc mung (Indian taro), the dish in Thai Binh has hoa chuoi (banana flowers) that have made it beloved.

Thai Binh’s bun bung hoa chuoi a hit far and wide
Bun bung hoa chuoi (rice vermicelli soup with pork ribs and banana flowers), a traditional dish that has been existed in Thai Binh Province for a hundred of years. — Photo

Ut said the main ingredients of bun bung hoa chuoi include rice vermicelli, pig’s trotters, pig ribs or marrowbone, la lot (wild betel leaf), minced pork and banana flowers. The minced pork is soaked with fish sauce, onions and several spices before being wrapped in the la lot and boiled in the broth pot for a while then taken out to be eaten with the soup.

“To have a good broth pot, I have to simmer the pig’s ribs or its marrowbone for almost two hours while boiling the pig’s trotters for half an hour to ensure the meat is soft but still crispy,” said Ut.

Thai Binh’s bun bung hoa chuoi a hit far and wide
Many people in and out of Thai Binh become addict of the bun bung hoa chuoi dish. — Photo

The banana flowers should be cut into pieces and soaked in rice water for about 20 minutes to reduce the resin and tartness before being put in the broth pot to boil for 10 minutes, she said, adding that she has her own secrets to ensure the broth remains pure but still sweet and fragrant.

Ut said she often sells between 25-30kg of rice vermicelli a day.

Thai Binh’s bun bung hoa chuoi a hit far and wide
Banana flowers are cut into pieces and soak in water for 20 minutes before cooking. — Photo

Eater Ha Van Mung and his wife have been Ut’s regular customers for years. They said they are addicted to Ut’s bún bung hoa chuối as their breakfast.

“Every morning we often stand in a long queue to have our favourite food. We enjoy it so much,” said Mung.


Mung’s wife Bui Thi Loi said she likes a bowl of bun bung not only for its taste and delicious but also its colours, with the white bun, red tomato and chilli, green fresh herbs and betel leaf rolls, brown boiled pig’s trotters and banana flowers and the light yellow colour of the broth.

Asked why the broth has a yellow colour, Ut said she uses several pieces of turmeric and pounds it as bran then puts it in the broth.

“The yellow colour helps give the dish its special taste that attracts diners,” she said.

Nguyen Thi Huan from Quang Ninh Province said she was a big fan of Ut’s bun bung hoa chuoi.

“I often come to Ut’s shop to enjoy the dish when I have a business trip to Thai Binh. Although have asked Ut for a recipe to cook the dish at home its taste is not the same as Ut’s,” she said.

Thai Binh’s bun bung hoa chuoi a hit far and wide
A tray of tasty bun bung hoa chuoi dish. — Photo

“I will never forget the broth’s sweetness, the meaty and delicious taste of pig’s trotters and betel leaf rolls and particularly the light tartness and crispiness of banana flowers. Although the dish is simple its rich characteristics and aromatic flavour have made many people, particularly those who live far from their Thai Binh homeland, miss it so much,” said Huan.  VNS