Not only renowned as a land of thousands of years of history, Vietnam also possesses a special cuisine with several delectable dishes that would easily whet your appetite. Vietnamese dishes do not look as elegant and luxurious as Western dishes and not bring a really oriental vibe like Chinese and Japanese dishes. Similar to Vietnamese people, Vietnamese cuisine brings more friendly and rustic feelings, which are simple yet undoubtedly worth-trying. Among the popular dishes in this country, “dua muoi” (pickled mustard greens) is a must-try dish that your Vietnam food tour should never miss.
The “kimchi” of Vietnam
The geo-cultural factors, namely the humid and hot tropical weather, have created the culinary tradition of Vietnamese people in this S-shaped land. Vietnamese people prefer sour and cool foods, which could help to stay cool on hot summer days. Pickled vegetables and sour soups are among the most favorite and popular ones.
“Dua muoi” – Vietnamese Kimchi
There is no exaggeration to say that “dua muoi” is the “kimchi” of Vietnam. It is one of the staples that almost every Vietnamese family has in their kitchens. Simple as the dish is, it could help you to digest all the heavy food. The crunchiness and tartness would be perfect to be paired with almost every rich and savory food. It would be a big loss if you don’t sample this dish in your Vietnam culinary tour.
Mustard Greens – the popular ingredients for “dua muoi”
Several types of vegetables can be used to make pickles but pickled mustard greens are the most popular vegetable. Both the leaves and the stems taste really well when cooking it this way. The fresh mustard greens are left on the counter under the sunlight till they get withered. It’s to make the veggie crunchier and chewier later on. Then all the parts that are yellow, bruised, or have been eaten by bugs will be trimmed. The leaves and the stems will be cut into small pieces (about 2-inch long) and washed under the running water to get rid of the dirt.
Boil water and wait for it to cool down to be able to touch. Put all water in a pot or a jar (glass or plastic are all OK) and add veggie into it. Make sure that all the mustard greens are submerged. Vietnamese people usually use a plate (or rock) to place on the top to weigh it down so that the veggie cannot expose directly to the air. You can add some salt and sugar into it.
Submerge the veggie in the water
When everything is done, put the jar in a warm place and wait for it till “dua muoi” turns slightly yellow and gets sour enough. It might take from 1 to 4 days depending on the temperature. After that, move it to the refrigerator to store it.
A very important thing to notice to make an excellent “dua muoi” is that you need to be careful when checking or touching the veggie. Any unwanted oil, water, or grease might cause the mustard greens to not pickle well. And do not use bare hands to taste the pickle because sometimes your hands might badly affect its scent and taste. Use clean chopsticks instead.
The makings of “dua muoi” seems to be very simple but it’s really not. The locals often say whether the pickles taste well depends on the hands of the chef. Sometimes it can taste quite well but the color is too dark, while sometimes the visual is great but the taste is repulsive.
“dua muoi” is a popular Vietnamese side dish
A popular side dish of Vietnamese people
There will be no surprise if you have tried “dua muoi” once in your Vietnam tailor-made tour without acknowledging it as this dish is widely preferred by people all over the country. A “standard” “dua muoi” is slightly yellow, crunchy, sour, and tart. It is a perfect side dish that could go with different kinds of meat and sausages. Not only is “dua muoi” an integral part in the daily meals of Vietnamese people, this dish is also served in important occasions. People eat it with meats, soups, seafood, and noodles. When the pickles get too sour, Vietnamese people use it to make the fried rice, cook sour soup, or make fish stew.
“Dua muoi” can be often seen in different rustic Vietnamese delicacies, thus being undeniably a must-try in a Vietnam food tour. The crunchy and sour taste of this pickled dish will definitely fit your taste’s buds.