A Sweet Taste Of “Xoi Ngu Sac” – Traditional Dish Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam

The Northwest mountainous area is famous for its unique and rich cuisine with the simplest and most traditional ingredients that come from the locals. One of the most well-known dishes in the place is five-colored steamed glutinous rice.

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Five–colored steamed glutinous rice is a special traditional food, as it is made from different kinds of trees that are grown by the local people, including 5 basic colors: white, green, purple, yellow, and red. The red color is made from gac fruit, the green color is taken from ginger and pandan leaves, the yellow color is from the juice of turmeric, the purple color of sticky rice is from black rice leaves, and the white color is the color of natural glutinous rice.

Photo: Cam Nhi
Photo: Cam Nhi

People who live in the Northwest mountainous area often make these dishes for special events such as weddings, and the Tet holiday and they are also used as offerings for ancestors and deities.

Photo: Phunumoi
Photo: Phunumoi

However, the most important step is choosing the right glutinous rice, in order to cook a delicious and colorful plate. The selected glutinous rice must be the standard type, which is white and fragrant. After selecting the rice, soak it in clean water for 6 to 8 hours, dividing it into 5 parts. The next part is to choose the necessary fruits to create the colors, wash them, then pound them to have the colored water. After soaking the rice, it will be time to get the pounded colored water mixed into the soaked rice, and you need to pay attention to the sticky rice, as the five parts must be cooked in different pots to prevent color mixing.

Photo: VietnamPlus
Photo: VietnamPlus

After mixing the colors in the glutinous rice, the last step is to cook the rice. The most important thing about this stage is the colors easiest to fade must be put in first, then other parts. The white one must be placed on top so as not to absorb other colors.

Photo: Vietnam+
Photo: Vietnam+

Each color brings different meanings, which are told by local people. The red color symbolizes hope and dreams for a bright future, purple represents the color of rich soils. The yellow color is for wealth and fulfillment, and hope for a peaceful life. The green color symbolizes the green forests and trees of the Northeast mountainous area. The white color is for love and fidelity. It also means parenthood and respect for parents. After about 30 to 40 minutes, when the sticky rice is cooked, a banana leaf will be picked and placed on the bamboo cricket, then put five-color sticky rice on top.

Photo: dulichtaybac.com
Photo: dulichtaybac.com

The water used to cook the rice was taken from the river streams of the mountains, giving the dish a sweet and fresh taste of nature.

Photo: Pham Mo
Photo: Pham Mo

There is nothing better than eating a delicious dish of five-colored steamed glutinous rice on a cold morning. Coming to Ha Giang, travelers should not miss this dish to not only enjoy a delicious dish of Ha Giang cuisine but also learn more about the rich culture in this province. Although it is a popular dish, five-color sticky rice has shown many precious values in the concept and behavior of people in the Northwest.

Photo: TravelMag
Photo: TravelMag
Charlotte Pho