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Monday, July 22, 2024

Xoi thit hon – Rediscovering Hue’s forgotten flavors

By Hoang Kim

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Xoi thit hon (sticky rice with simmered pork) is a must-try dish in Hue City, embodying the sophistication and creativity of the ancient capital’s culinary traditions.

“Hon” is a unique cooking technique originating from central Vietnam, featuring a long simmering process where the pot remains covered throughout, allowing a diverse range of ingredients to meld together. To prepare the dish, spare ribs or pork trotters are cut into bite-sized pieces and marinated with curry powder, five-spice powder, a touch of turmeric for color, minced shallots, garlic, lemongrass, soy sauce, fish sauce, and a splash of white wine. Shallots and lemongrass are added to the marinated ribs, which are then sautéed. Water is added just enough to cover the ribs, and the mixture is simmered until the meat sauce is reduced by half.

Xoi thit hon also includes peanuts. The peanuts are boiled until tender and then added to the pot as the meat sauce begins to reduce. The meat and peanuts are simmered together until they become tender and flavorful.

To prepare the sticky rice, glutinous rice is soaked for at least four to six hours to ensure it absorbs moisture and cooks evenly. The soaked rice is then placed in a steamer or a heatproof pot to cook thoroughly. A small amount of water is added to ensure the sticky rice’s softness and tenderness.

Xoi thit hon is served with two separate bowls: one containing the sticky rice and the other holding the simmered pork. When enjoying the dish, diners pour the meat sauce over the sticky rice, savoring the unique combination of glutinous rice and curry flavors. The dish is best enjoyed hot, especially on cold, rainy days.

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