By Doan Xuan in Ben Tre
|Rice cooked with coconut juice is served with shrimp simmered in fish sauce – Photo: Doan Xuan|
On my nationwide voyage to discover the tastes of Vietnam with celebrity chef Martin Yan, I had a chance to savor a rural but delicious food of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre – com hap nuoc dua or rice cooked with coconut juice.
Ben Tre is the coconut headquarters of Vietnam and people there make use of the tree’s organs like leaves (making roofs), fruit (candy and jam) and body (household appliances).
To have the perfect dish, you have to choose good quality and fragrant rice and sweet coconut juice. Then cut a round shape on top of the fruit and pour the juice out. Com hap nuoc dua is cooked by putting rice inside a coconut shell with the juice. Then the fruit is steamed inside a cooker at a specific temperature for an hour. A secret is to have a suitable amount of rice and juice to have the perfect taste, not too tough and not too pasty in a white color (note you should not turn it purple).
There’s something missing if you don’t enjoy the rice with shrimp simmered in fish sauce. After washing shrimp with the heads and tails cut, you soak it with salt, fish sauce and sugar. Then the shrimp is simmered in fish sauce and coconut juice for a crispy and juicy taste.
“A bite of coconut rice and shrimp could be an unforgettable moment for diners. Next time you have a chance, visit Ben Tre to savor this specialty,” Yan shared to audiences whilst filming his reality show on Vietnamese food.