Rather popular in Saigon, this snack—whose main ingredients are green papaya fibers and beef jerky—has a different name in Dalat City in Lam Dong Province, where it is called xắp xắp. However, the version in Dalat has its own distinctive features beside a different name, which will please lovers of snacks.
Although they share the same main ingredients, xắp xắp, the version in Dalat, is not totally identical to their counterpart in Saigon where it is called gỏi khô bò (green papaya and beef jerky salad).
Why is the version in Dalat called xap xap? An owner of a xap xap mini restaurant in Dalat says the name may stem from how the snack is prepared. As a matter of fact, only after all the ingredients are prepared will be they neatly arranged on a plate to be quite eye-catching. Some people might have called it “xap xap” then (which means “arrangement”), and the snack has been so named.
A dish of the snack includes young papaya fibers, beef jerky, chili sauce, roasted peanuts and Thai basil leaves. Yet the dressing soy sauce is equally important. The sauce of the Saigonese version is sour and that of the version in Danang is spicy. Meanwhile, the version of Dalat combines both. In Dalat, the sauce is made from tamarind fruits which give a delicate distinctive sourness second to none.
To make their dish outstanding, cooks of xap xap in Dalat are very choosy about the ingredients to be used. The papayas must be still green to ensure the necessary chewiness. The fruits are then shaved into fibers at certain lengths. Next, the papaya fibers are soaked in ice to keep them chewy.
A dish of xap xap must encompass the chewiness of papaya and the combination of all other ingredients to help a diner feel the deliciousness of this simple snack. It is arranged in the following way. The layer at the bottom is papaya fibers. Next, it is topped with beef jerky, roasted peanuts, chili sauce and basil leaves. Finally, a plate of xap xap is dressed in the sour soy sauce.
Diners who want to have a change for their snacks while on a visit to Dalat may find a xap xap mini restaurant. Try it once and you’ll never forget it!