3 must-try delicacies in Dak Nong

Ethnic diversity in Dak Nong province in the Central Highland region of Vietnam has led to a stunning array of cuisine. Check out these must-try dishes

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M’Nong Cần wine

In Dak Nong, tourists can taste Cần wine of the M’Mong ethnic group, the second most populous ethnic group in Dak Nong following the Kinh.

To the M’Nong, Cần wine (Yăng n’ranh in M’Nong language) is a must-have drink during festivals and parties. It is also served to distinguished guests or friends from afar. In the view of the M’Nong, Cần wine is the drink of the Yàng (deities).

The M’Nong believes that Cần wine can bring joy, good omens, and happiness. Therefore, Cần wine is a drink for the entire family, regardless of age. The culture of drinking Cần wine signifies community bonding and the M’Nong hope for a happy and prosperous life.

3 must-try delicacies in Dak Nong
Drinking Cần wine from ché / VNExpress

Cần wine is made using wild leaves, roots, barks, or rice. The most popular ingredients for Cần wine are black rice (nếp than) and millet grown on basalt red soil. In the past, Cần wine’s main ingredients were a mixture of different types of grains mixed with an assortment of bulbs. Nowadays, Cần wine is mostly fermented using glutinous rice. However, the type of yeast remains unchanged.

Produced by adopting a natural fermentation process, Cần wine is fermented from two to six months. The final product has a honey-like consistency, slightly brown-yellow color, and a unique, alluring flavor.

3 must-try delicacies in Dak Nong
Black rice (nếp than), the main ingredient of Cần wine / Tapchinhabep

When drinking Cần wine, drinkers add water into the wine jar, called ché, then plug a bamboo tube inside so everyone can drink from the jar. Cần wine is light and has a sweet flavor that makes people want to keep drinking.

On tasting the M’Nong wine, people’s spirits are lifted; they become more open and warmer towards each other.

You will see a jar of Cần wine at a corner of the house of every M’Nong family. Cần wine is an indispensable part of their everyday life.

Thụt soup of the Ma and M’Nong ethnic groups

Thụt soup (Canh thụt) is a popular dish of the M’Nong and Ma ethnic minority groups. The main ingredients to make Thụt soup are paddy oats (rau nhíp in Vietnamese), bamboo shoots, protein (meat or fish), white ants, and mole crickets. These ingredients are put in a fresh bamboo tube called lồ ô, which is sealed on one end. When cooking, the tube is tilted to a 30 degree over the fire and turn in a circle so that the soup inside is evenly cooked.

3 must-try delicacies in Dak Nong
Thụt soup is normally cooked in a bamboo tube, called lồ ô / VnExpress

The cook will push a stick into the tube so that the ingredients can mix well together. Before serving, the cook will add salt, chilly and other types of vegetables to their liking. M’Nong people eat Canh thụt with Lam rice (sticky rice cooked in bamboo tubes) or normal rice.

3 must-try delicacies in Dak Nong
Preparing Thụt soup (Canh thụt) / Tin247

Chicken sauteed with sour bamboo shoots of the Ma ethnic minority group

According to the Ma ethnic minority group, chicken tastes best when cooked with sour bamboo shoots. After harvesting, the cook peels the outer skin of the bamboo shoot, slice it thinly, and soaks it in a jar of saltwater. The cook will then seal the jar so that the air will not get inside and cause the bamboo shoot to darken.

The bamboo shoots can be used after two weeks when the water turns opaque like the color of rice water and the bamboo shoots turn sour. Instead of using young bamboo shoots growing just above the soil, the Ma people use bamboo shoots that have grown taller than humans. When fermented, the latter can last longer and taste crunchier. The Ma’s fermented bamboo shoots can last from one to two years without getting spoiled.

3 must-try delicacies in Dak Nong
Sour bamboo shoots / Baodaknong.org.vn

Cooking chicken sauteed with sour bamboo shoots is fairly simple and straightforward. Sour bamboo shoots are taken from the jar, squeezed dry, then sauteed with marinated chicken. The Ma’s secret to a delicious dish of chicken sauteed with sour bamboo shoots is keeping a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. After simmering from 30 to 45 minutes, the chicken will turn tender, and the bamboo shoots will release a mesmerizing aroma. Before serving, the Ma sprinkle some grounded wild pepper onto the chicken to enhance its flavor.

3 must-try delicacies in Dak Nong
Chicken sauteed with sour bamboo shoots served with other dishes / Baodaknong.org.vn

On cold, windy days, the aroma from chicken sauteed with sour bamboo shoots makes people want to dive in immediately. The tender chicken, together with sour, crunchy bamboo shoots and spicy pepper, creates a unique dish of the Ma ethnic minorities in Dak Nong.

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