Buon Ma Thuot not only has premium coffee with a unique delicious taste, but also many other famous delicacies such as wine, marinated chicken, fragrant rice tubes, and especially the excellent red vermicelli.
Red vermicelli is a popular specialty of Dak Lak. Although there are some similarities with vermicelli in the South, the famous red vermicelli in the “capital of coffee” is very different. It has big, firm vermicelli, similar to Southern beef vermicelli but slightly better, about the size of a chopstick, chewy and crispy.
Different from sophisticated dishes like pho in Hanoi, vermicelli with fish in Quy Nhon, bun bo Hue, or vermicelli in Can Tho, Ban Me red vermicelli is extremely rustic, strange, and especially delicious. At first glance, red vermicelli is quite similar to crab vermicelli, but this dish is made from pure crab meat, pureed pork and fat, vegetables, bean sprouts, and of course, boiled quail eggs.
The special thing about red vermicelli in Buon Ma Thuot is the broth. The broth of Ban Me red vermicelli is simmered from crab meat, pork bones, and beef bones. These ingredients create a sweet taste, making the dish very easy to eat. The cook often adds pureed crab, shrimp, and bacon, mixed with pepper, and chopped onion. They are molded into round balls and dropped into the pot to make the broth rich, delicious and unique, not to be confused with any other vermicelli dishes. The vermicelli used to cook this dish is carefully selected. The noodles must be big, chewy, and fragrant.
At the preliminary stage, the vermicelli is white, but after about 10 minutes of cooking, the noodles will slowly turn red. Thanks to the soaking of seasoning spices, the broth will be more delicious. According to the locals, the eye-catching color of this dish is due to the use of a sufficient amount of cashew oil to create a natural red color and ensure safety for consumption.
In order for the noodles to be soft and to soak up the spices evenly, the cook must put the noodles in the pot at the right time, not too early, nor when the broth has boiled for too long. The vermicelli must be cooked in a pot of broth for about 10 minutes so that it can slightly expand.
The special thing is that the longer it cooks, the more tender the crab and pork will be, the stronger the flavor and the sweeter the broth will be.
The bowl of vermicelli has many different colors, such as the reddish color of cashews, the bright red color of tomatoes cut into areca slices, the fresh green color of vegetables, the brown color of fish cakes and crabs, and the white color of rice noodles, boiled quail eggs. This dish looks eye-catching and stimulates the taste buds.
Red vermicelli is not served with raw vegetables, or common herbs, but must be eaten with celery or kohlrabi, lightly blanched bean sprouts, and some additives such as chopped non-aromatic onions with crispy fried fat. The quail eggs after being boiled are peeled off and put into the red broth.
Eaters can squeeze more lemon, kumquat, or vinegar to balance the taste, and not get fed up with the filling. After taking a sip of the broth, diners will feel the sweet taste spreading down to the stomach. Many people say that red vermicelli is a variation, a harmonious blend of many other specialties, but obviously, Buon Ma Thuot red vermicelli has its own delicious and rich flavor.
Anyone can enjoy coffee in the Central Highlands at any time of the day, but red vermicelli is not always available. It’s not a popular breakfast dish, so it’s hard to find. However, from around 3-4 pm until late, people can eat red vermicelli everywhere. From the shops on Le Duan and Nguyen Van Cu streets to the street vendors in small alleys and markets.