Coconut is a popular fruit in Việt Nam, especially in the south. Its juice does not only help to cool you down on a hot day, but also contains various vitamins and minerals.
Coconut can be used to make some delicious dishes, many of which have become delicacies of the south. The dishes can either be starters, main courses, desserts or drinks.
By the end of last month, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department of the southern province of Bến Tre hosted a ceremony to announce Việt Nam’s and the world’s record for “Processing 222 dishes from coconut”.
At the event, over 60 chefs prepared their dishes from various parts of a coconut palm like the core, copra, juice and sprout.
The 222 dishes consisted of salads, fried or fresh spring rolls, sweet soups, stews, cakes, jellies and candies, among others.
The Viet Kings officially announced Bến Tre as the place where with the most coconut dishes in Việt Nam.
The province set the previous record in 2009.
Here are the most popular dishes from coconut:
Steamed rice with coconut
Steamed rice with coconut. Photo dienmayxanh.com
When visiting the south, tourists often try various kinds of steamed rice, with mussels, chicken or pork.
Steamed rice with coconut is a significant delicacy in the south as the rice is steamed right inside the coconut with its juice.
For the dish, Siamese coconut is chosen together with good rice.
The rice is put inside the coconut with some water. The coconut is placed in a pan with more water and steamed.
The rice should be soft and absorb the coconut flavour. It should be served with stir-fried shrimp to ensure the best flavour.
Buffalo meat or beef stir-fried with coconut cream
Buffalo meat stirred in fat with coconut cream. Photo dienmayxanh.com
Buffalo meat or beef is sliced into thin pieces and marinated with garlic, onion, chilli and some salt. After about 15 minutes, the meat should be stir-fried with some coconut cream to create a sweet and fatty flavour. The dish can be served with either steamed rice or bread.
The dish is not made from any parts of a coconut palm; it is made with worms living inside the tree.
Coconut worms in fish sauce. Photo nld.com
Fat coconut worms can be fried, baked or even eaten raw. The delicacy brings a fatty and savoury taste and is a more unique dish than other delicacies of the south.
Mentioning dishes from coconut, it’s impossible not to mention sweet soup, in which coconut milk adds the strongest flavour to the dish.
Thưng sweet gruel. Photo vov.vn
Thưng or bà ba sweet soup, like other kinds of sweet soup, has the same ingredient like mung beans, lotus seeds, peanuts, sweet potato powder and coconut cream. What makes this dish different from other kinds of sweet soup is the skill and carefulness of the cook.
Bến Tre coconut cake
The cake has been popular for a long time in Bến Tre and combines two kinds of coconut: coconut on land and coconut on water. While water coconut is used to make the cover for the cake, the on-land coconut is used to make the fillings.
The cake is used as a kind of snack as well as an offering to ancestors in festive events.
The cover of the cake is made of coconut leaves while the fillings include sticky rice flour, banana or mung beans, black beans, coconut flesh, some salt and sugar.
Though the ingredients are simple, the way to make the cake is rather time-consuming and complicated.
When eating the cake, people feel the harmony of coconut leaf, coconut flesh, sticky rice, and beans. The simple dish makes a significant delicacy of Bến Tre Province.
Wine from coconut
Coconut wine is a special drink from Bến Tre. Photo courtesy of Đào Công Thành
Coconut wine is a special drink in the south. The best coconuts from Bến Tre Province, the kingdom of the coconut, are chosen for making the wine.
After removing water from the coconut, the wine will be put in the fruit, covered completely to let it ferment.
The final wine product tastes a little spicy but is sweet and good for health.
The hot wine brings along the natural flavour of coconut. VNS