Cơm niêu, a tasty simple dish, lures both local and foreign foodies

June 04, 2024 - 09:33
Cơm niêu (rice cooked in a clay pot) is not only a simple tasty dish but also a cultural symbol, part of a culinary history in almost every Vietnamese’s memory.

Quý Dương

Cơm niêu (rice cooked in a clay pot) is not only a simple tasty dish but also a cultural symbol, part of a culinary history in almost every Vietnamese’s memory.

Coming from a tiny village, cơm niêu, which is cooked over a wood fire, has become an indispensable part of Vietnamese culture, said professional chef Phạm Tuấn Hải.

“I will never forget the image of cơm niêu cooked by my grandmother. It is a sacred thing to all local families because it is simple, popular and brings back happy memories. Cooking rice in a clay pot is not only tasty, but because of its thick cover, it helps to keep heat longer, so the rice retains the traditional flavour as well,” said Hải.

Cơm niêu (rice cooked in a clay pot), eaten with traditional dishes such as braised fish, is a symbol of Vietnamese culinary culture. Photos mytour.vn

Hải said to make a tasty cơm niêu, the clay pot should be placed in a high temperature fire so as to make the pot’s cover thin but hard to break while cooking.

He said his grandmother often bought new rice locally known as Tám Xoan which is fragrant and soft. In the past locals often cooked cơm niêu by burying it in wood charcoal for half an hour until it is done. However, before eating, you would need to get through the first layer of rice which had come into contact with the ashes.

A tray of cơm niêu cooked in central region style.

Rice cooked in a clay pot is drier, but softer and more fragrant compared with cooking it in other types of container, such as an electric cooker, said Hải, adding that his grandmother also used clay pot to braise fish, or cook pig’s leg (locally known as giả cầy) or fake dog meat, braised beef with ginger and braised shrimp with lemon grass.

Cơm niêu continues play an important role in the Vietnamese culinary picture.

It is now available in big cities like Hà Nội and HCM City and is often presented to international diners, said Hải, noting that each locality, in the country’s three northern, central and southern regions, has their own version of cơm niêu, reflecting Việt Nam’s culinary diversity.

Almost all Vietnamese agreed that cơm niêu takes them back to their childhood.

Dương Quang Nghị, 55, from Los Angleles explained why he likes cơm niêu so much. He said: “When having a business trip to Việt Nam I often enjoy cơm niêu at a restaurant or at a pavement food stall with different dishes such as braised fish, salted eggplants or with crab soup. These places are where I can hold a traditional meeting with friends and where homeland flavour is being honoured via hot fragrant cơm niêu.”

Foodies enjoy cơm niêu.

Nghị said his US friends were also interested in cơm niêu and told him it is is worth trying when visiting Việt Nam.

Cơm niêu is not only dish and a cultural bridge but also brings back childhood memories. Although times have passed, cơm niêu’s flavour will live forever in every Vietnamese's memory,” he said. VNS

To sample tasty great and amazing cơm niêu in Hà Nội, foodies are invited to restaurants. They include:+ Vị An Restaurant at 145 Hoàng Cầu, Đống Đa District; Opening hour from 10:30am to 22 pm with price ranging from VNĐ 70,000-150,000Hotline: 0904 816 145Website: https://nhahangvian.comFanpage: https://www.facebook.com/nhahangvian+ Tố Uyên Restaurant at 101 C2 Phạm Ngọc Thạch Street, Đống Đa. Opening hour: 10am-21pm. Hotline: 0378 867 762Email: comnieutouyen@gmail.comWebsite: http://comnieutouyen.vnFanpage: www.facebook.com/comnieutouyen+ Cơm Sườn at 47 Đào Duy Từ, Hai Bà Trưng District. Opening hour: 10am-22:30 pm. Phone number: 0904 113 553Website: http://kombo.vnFanpage: www.facebook.com/comsuondaoduytu+ Cơm Niêu KomHome Restaurant at 96B Nguyễn Huy Tưởng, Thanh Xuân District. Phone number: 024 3999 7373Email: komhomevietnam@gmail.comWebsite: http://komhome.vnFanpage: www.facebook.com/comnieukomhome+ Cơm Niêu Hà Nội - Tây Sơn at 17 alley 252 Tây Sơn Street, Đống Đa District. Opening hour: 10am-14:30pm / 17pm-21pm.+ Cơm Niêu Gia Đình at 75 Ngụy Như Kon Tum Street, Thanh Xuân District. Opening hour: 9am-21pm.