Bến Tre's skillfully-crafted rice noodles delight foodies near and far

February 28, 2023 - 08:00
The noodles, which are expertly prepared by hand, offer a delightful combination of soft and crunchy textures and a natural sweetness derived from the rice dough.

Duy An

Renowned for its abundant coconut farms and skillfully crafted rice noodles, known as bánh canh bột xắt, the Mekong Delta province of Bến Tre boasts a culinary tradition that delights both locals and visitors alike.

The noodles, which are expertly made by hand, offer a delightful combination of soft and crunchy textures and a natural sweetness derived from the rice dough. The dish leaves a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to sample it when paired with a delectable broth and the savour of free-range ducks.

Explaining the name of the dish, local vendor Lê Thị Tỵ, who has been selling the dish for more than two decades, said she chooses special rice that is medium dry and not too soft. The rice should be soaked in cold water for four hours, then ground into a wet dough and kneaded well before using a glass bottle to roll it into thin slices. She then uses a knife to cut them and puts them into a pot to boiling water for a few minutes until they floats.

'Bánh canh bột xắt' (hand-cut rice noodle) soup with duck meat, a must-try dish in the southern province of Bến Tre. Photo cafeF.vn

“Making rice noodles is not so difficult, but the maker should regularly stir them while boiling to avoid them from burning and sticking together,” Tỵ said, noting that there are many types of bánh canh soup.

These include bánh canh with giò heo (pork leg), bánh canh with chicken, bánh canh with shrimp and coconut juice, and bánh canh with snakehead fish or sea crab, but the most popular is bánh canh with duck meat.

Rice dough is cut by hand to make 'bánh canh' (noodles), a popular dish that lures a lot of eaters to Bến Tre. Photo phunumoi.net.vn

The dish's feature is its milk-coloured broth, she said.

Tỵ said she often chooses vịt xiêm (kind of muscovy duck) as the meat is soft and less fatty. The meat should be marinated with minced dried onion, pepper and salt for an hour before frying.

Apart from the noodle soup with duck meat, sea crab meat is also popular. Photo tapchidulich.edu.vn

She said several sellers cut the duck into pieces and then put them into a bánh canh pot. The dish is more enjoyable when topped with coriander and pepper.

Trương Thị Thịnh from Hà Nội said last August her daughter from Germany organised a tour for her and her husband to visit HCM City and the provinces of Tiền Giang and Bến Tre.

'Bánh canh bột xắt' with shrimp is a big hit. Photo ticotravel.com

“We were told to eat the noodles with duck when visiting Bến Tre. Duck meat is more enjoyable when dipping it in fish sauce mixed with ginger and chilli so that eaters can experience its special flavour,” Thịnh said.

“We like the dish so much.”

Nutritionists say the dish is rich in vitamin E, B6, acid folic and kali. The dish is low in calories, so it is suitable for those wishing to lose weight.


In the box

There are several tasty bánh canh bột xắt shops in Bến Tre:

- Bến Tre Market at 10 Chi Lăng Street, Ward 2

- Bà Chớ shop at 141A Trương Định Road, Ward 6

- Bà Mụ shop at Cầu Market at Nguyễn Huệ Road, Ward 6

- Tân Thành Crossroads at 173 Đồng Khởi Avenue, Phú Khương Ward

- Bà Tư shop at Phú Khương Ward.

And many others along Highway 60 of Tân Thanh Bình Commune, Mỏ Cày Bắc District. VNS