Banh canh (rice noodle soup) is a familiar dish in the Mekong Delta. One of the well-known versions of the many rice noodle soups in southern Vietnam is that of Ben Co in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh. The sweetness of Ben Co rice noodle soup may enchant even some of the most hard-to-please food connoisseurs.
The dish is named after Ben Co Hamlet in Tra Vinh Province. The rice noodles for the soup are quite chewy yet still maintains a certain softness. Rice for making these noodles should be the good one that helps the noodles have a special flavor and texture. They don’t get mushy when in the broth made by boiling pork bones on low heat for several hours on end.
The sweetness of the broth is from not only pork bones but also pork innards, grilled squids and onions. In addition, the broth’s unique taste also comes from the way local cooks season the thick soup with spices, including fish sauce, sugar, salt and monosodium glutamate. Pork innards should be cleaned carefully with lemon juice to remove their offensive smell.
A bowl of Ben Co rice noodle soup is topped with pepper, minced green onions, sliced pork innards and pig’s leg. It is also served with dipping sauce which is fish sauce with minced chilies and lemon juice.
By Lam Nhu