Where to get Pig Bowels

(No.4, Vol.8,Aug-Sep Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Bánh hỏi and pig bowels served with rice papers, green vegetables and sauces at a restaurant in Phu Long Town, Phan Thiet City, Binh Thuan Province. Photo: Do Huu Tuan

Phan Thiet has the most authentic bánh hỏi lòng heo

In Phan Thiet, bánh hỏi with pig bowels (lòng heo) is synonymous with Phu Long Town, which is the name of the native place of this dish, where it is the most authentic and fantastic.
About 7km north of downtown Phan Thiet on National Highway 1A, Phu Long Town is a roadside station where tourists stop to enjoy this exotic dish before coming to the land of golden sun and blue sea.
Bánh hỏi with bowels can be consumed all day but it is best for breakfast because it is both light and full of energy. Best quality rice, soaked overnight and cleansed multiple times, undergoes meticulous processing before becoming snow-white rice vermicelli woven into intricate bundles, not sticky but soft and melting on the tip of the tongue.
The pig bowel must be picked up before dawn at a slaughterhouse when it is still hot. Carefully preprocessed, it is steamed with ginger and shell ginger just enough amount of time to make it soft, juicy and luscious, and then served steamy hot. A plate must contain slices of the heart, liver, kidney, small intestine, belly meat (which has three stripes of skin, fat and meat) and blood sausage.
The blood sausage is normally stuffed with blood, chopped meat, roasted peanuts and a mixture of aromatic vegetables. It can be steamed, fried or grilled on charcoal.
The dish is served with thin rice waffle sheets and salads. The rice sheets must be wiped clean one by one, and then moistened in morning mist or with banana leaves to make them soft. The veggies normally include basils, mint leaves, lettuce, green pepper and green chilli.
The dish can’t do without the sauce. Prime fish sauce is boiled with water, sugar and finely ground tomato and chili. When it has cooled down, some tamarind or lime juice is added for the sour taste. That is the most authentic Phan Thiet sauce formula.
Another minor but indispensable ingredient is crushed desiccated bread, stir-fried in pig fat and spring onion. This completes the delicate combination of colours, aromas and tastes of the dish.
There are two common ways to enjoy this culinary wonder. You can put a little of everything into your bowl, pour in a little sauce, and pick it up with your chopsticks. The more popular way is to put a little of everything on a rice sheet, wrap it into a roll, dip it in the sauce, take a bite and chew it slowly and softly.
One more thing visitors should know is, Phan Thiet folks finish their breakfast before 9 a.m. So enough time should be spared to fully enjoy the depth of the taste and the wide range of flavors that the dish has to offer.

Some places you may want to visit to have a taste of this dish include:
Phan Thiet Bazaar
(the temporary place opposite of North bus terminal on Tu Van Tu St, Phan Thiet City). Quynh shop and Hien shop, Phu Long Town, Ham Thuan Bac Dist, Phan Thiet City. Phu Long Banh hoi long heo shop, opposite of Phan Chu Trinh high school, Phan Thiet City.

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