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Saturday, June 15, 2024

The distinctive bun cha quat in Ninh Binh

By Hoang Kim

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Bun cha quat is a must-try for tourists visiting Ninh Binh, as the dish boasts unique characteristics and flavors compared to the traditional bun cha of Hanoi.

The defining feature of bun cha quat lies in the grilled pork patties. These patties are made from minced pork with a perfect ratio of fat to meat, marinated with a meticulous blend of spices according to a special recipe to ensure all the ingredients blend harmoniously. Each patty is then shaped into large, square, flat pieces, placed on a wire rack, and grilled over hot charcoal until they are fragrant and evenly golden. The grilling technique in Ninh Binh imparts a distinct smoky aroma that sets it apart from other regional variations.

The grilled pork patties, when served, are still hot with a slightly charred and crispy exterior while remaining tender and juicy inside, ensuring the sweetness of the meat is retained without being dry.

Bun cha quat is served with bite-sized pieces of compressed rice noodles rather than the thin, tangled noodles commonly seen in bun cha Hanoi. The dish is accompanied by fresh herbs and vegetables such as lettuce, perilla, mint, and cilantro. A key element of the dish is the dipping sauce made from fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and chili. This sauce combines sweet, sour, and spicy flavors and includes pickled papaya and carrots.

Diners can find bun cha quat at many street vendors and local restaurants specializing in this dish. Popular spots often have a lively atmosphere with the aroma of grilling meat filling the air, creating an inviting and vibrant dining experience that captures the essence of Ninh Binh’s culinary scene.

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