Bite into a broomstick

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With simple ingredients, tre embraces the unforgettable tastes of central Vietnam


Tré Binh Dinh at Moon River Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City's Binh Thanh District

"Most people are put off when they see tre," Le Thi Thanh says.

"Then they cut and taste it, and are astounded by the strong flavors."

Thanh is the owner of Moon River Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, which specializes in delicacies from central Vietnam, including tre.

Tre is made using pig ear meat, pig head meat, pork, sesame, roasted rice powder, hot chilies, garlic, young guava leaves and banana leaves.

First, the meat is scalded in boiling water, and then quickly immersed in cool water. Once the meat is crispy, it is seasoned with spices. The seasoned meat is then skillfully wrapped in guava and banana leaves.

Finally, the package is wrapped in a thick layer of straw, and tied at the two ends with bamboo strings. The straw helps tre keep longer, and enhances the flavors and fragrance.

WHERE TO GO

Customers can discover the central spicy flavor of tre at the following restaurants in HCMC:

* Moon River
233A Binh Quoi Street, Ward 28, Binh Thanh District

* Thanh Nga
45C Ky Dong Street, District 3

* Nam Giao
662/19 Su Van Hanh Street, District 10

* Chao Vit Sai Gon
40 Tran Cao Van Street, District 1

* Nau
156 Nguyen Van Troi Street, Ward 8, Phu Nhuan District

It also makes it look like a mini-broomstick, and definitely inedible.

After it has been wrapped tightly, tre is left to mature in a cool, airy place for three days and two nights.

After it matures, tre has the subtle aromas of fermented meat, galangal and garlic. It is served with rice paper, fresh vegetables, sliced green banana and cucumber.

The dish is dipped into fish sauce mixed with lime, chili, garlic and sugar, or into a sweet and spicy chili sauce.

Despite the rustic look of the tre, its unique flavors have transcended national boundaries. Recently, Thanh opened a new restaurant in Singapore, and tre has already become one of its best-selling dishes.

The sesame adds grease and crunch while the meat is soft and crispy.

Tre comes from central Vietnam, where the cuisine is often spicy. The influence is evident in the sweet and sour tang, and complex aroma of the dish. It is famous in central destinations such as the towns of Da Nang, Hue and Nha Trang and the provinces of Binh Dinh, Quang Ngai and Quang Nam.

For those who miss the spice of tre made in central Vietnam, head to the several restaurants in HCMC serving the popular dish.

Prices range from VND100,000- 120,000 for a portion in restaurants. It also makes great gifts for friends and family, costing around VND500,000 a kilo.

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