07-09-2017, 01:49 (GMT+7) 246

Vietnamese gumbo, Da Nang’s signature dish

It is cheap, it is tasty and it comes with a dizzying array of ingredients.

Fermented anchovy sauce is a popular dipping sauce in the central coastal provinces. Traditionally it is made from fresh fish marinated with salt, creating a thickish, fragrant brown condiment.

Anchovy dipping sauce is associated with other specialties in Da Nang City such as sizzling pancake with rolls, steamed rice cake, rice paper rolls with pork, roasted meat and vermicelli with pork.

Of them, vermicelli with anchovy sauce (or Vietnamese gumbo) is the most popular in Da Nang.

Unlike the vermicelli with anchovy sauce of the Mekong Delta region, which is filled with hot broth, in central Vietnam it is served without broth. Photo by VnExpress/Di Vy

Unlike the vermicelli with anchovy sauce of the Mekong Delta region, which is filled with hot broth, in central Vietnam it is served without broth. Photo by VnExpress/Di Vy

Vermicelli with anchovy sauce has a number of different ingredients. It is served with boiled or roasted pork, fermented pork sausage, beef or pork rolls, and crunchy pig ears. 

Besides lettuce, chopped papaya, bean sprout, and boiled jackfruit, herbs such as basil and laksa leaves and stir-fried purple onion are added to reduce the sauce’s strong odor. Roasted peanuts, stir-fried red peppers, raw green peppers, garlic, and some lemon are used as the side dish to release the aroma.

In most bowls of vermicelli with anchovy sauce in Da Nang, the former is placed above a layer of vegetables followed by the meat and the side dishes before the sauce is poured evenly. 

Diners can use their chopsticks to mix the components in the bowl so that the sauce is fully absorbed by the ingredients. The signature dish of central cuisine then tastes salty, sweet, spicy, and sour.

Fragrant (you keep going back and forth between fragrant and fishy smell. Decide which one) with anchovy sauce, Vietnamese gumbo is spicy and has the slight sourness of the spring rolls, the fatty taste of the beef rolls, the crunchiness of the roasted meat and pig ears, and the freshness of the raw vegetables. Photo: Di Vy.

With anchovy sauce, Vietnamese gumbo is spicy and has the slight sourness of the spring rolls, the fatty taste of the beef rolls, the crunchiness of the roasted meat and pig ears, and the freshness of the raw vegetables. Photo by VnExpress/Di Vy

For tourists, most restaurants make the dish less salty. People eating it for the first time should ask for the sauce to be served separately so that they can adjust it to their taste.

Guests can also ask for steamed pork rolls and fermented pork sausage to eat separately.

In Da Nang, you can find Vietnamese gumbo in every street corner, especially at the "anchovy dipping sauce village" Tran Ke Xuong, breakfast area Huynh Thuc Khang, and Con and Han markets among others.

A bowl costs VND15,000 - 30,000 ($0.7 - $1.3).

VNE