Banh Canh Nam Pho – tapioca noodles topped with pork and shrimp – is a favorite among the people of Hue looking for a light afternoon, meal.
A street vendor scoops out banh canh Nam Pho, a popular dish of tapioca noodle soup in the central city of Hue. Photos: Tuyet Khoa
The small suburban village of Nam Pho has been in the business of selling its namesake noodle soup for three to four generations.
No one is quite sure who authored the first recipe for the tapioca noodle soup, but nearly 70 households now specialize in the dish.
The village, which is some some 10 kilometers from the center of Hue.
The women of Nam Pho routinely start their day at the local wet markets where they buy materials like shrimp and pork, and then spend half a day preparing pots of banh canh Nam Pho in which everything, even the noodles, is made by hand.
To make the chewy noodles, they steam a mixture of rice and tapioca flour into a dough that's kneaded and squeezed through holes in the bottom of a plastic bag held over a pot of boiling water.
The soup is a mixture of pork bone and shrimp broth. Pork belly and shrimp are then minced and rolled into balls before being cooked in the broth.
Nam Pho women often begin their daily business after lunch. They head downtown, carrying a giant stainless steel pot held over a coal oven on one side of a bamboo pole, and piles of bowls and condiments on the other.
These days the dish can be found at restaurants outside Hue. However, few believe that one can do better than the women in the ancient capitol.