Photos: Le Nam
Thang co means "a pot of water" in the Mong language.
But it is more than just water or a typical pot.
It is a giant cast-iron pan containing lots of innards, bones, fat and meat from a cow, buffalo or horse.
In fact, the Mong are believed to have invented the food to make use of what was left of the animals after their best parts had been taken.
A Mong man in Ha Giang Province said they do not use a lot of seasoning in thang co, only salt and a pepper-like spice locally known as mac khen.
When everything becomes really soft, it is time to eat, he said.
Locals eat thang co
like hotpot, meaning each have their own bowl and keep dipping into the pot.
They only cook or eat the food in spring or at festivals and periodical markets.
However, in recent years it has been on the menu in many restaurants in the northern highlands region to serve tourists, of course with a few changes in the recipe to tone its taste down.
But the best bowl of thang co
is always served at outdoor markets, directly from a giant pan that is on the simmer and giving out a strong but mouth-watering smell, with the company of ruou ngo