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"Dude, no way." "Dude, Hue!"*


Above, a riverboat on the Perfume River in Hue.

*I must admit, Missy thought of this title. If you don't get it, think of Wayne and Garth or maybe two surfers having a conversation.

I got up and out fairly early to check out the action at Dong Ba market, just across the bridge from my hotel. If carrots can be gorgeous, they have gorgeous carrots around here.


Turmeric is a rhizome, like ginger, and has a rich yellow color. Dry turmeric is one of the main ingredients in American yellow mustard for that reason. The leaves are sometimes used as well, either as chiffonade in small quantities or as a wrapper leaf.


In the center are green figs. They're sliced thin and used as part of the salad accompanying banh khoai, a crispy rice pancake similar to banh xeo. The difference, according to some recipes I looked up, is that banh xeo is from the south, contains coconut milk in the batter, is served with nuoc cham, and is much larger in size. WIthout the coconut milk, banh khoai are usually much crisper, almost like tempura coating. The green figs I have tasted so far are pretty flavorless, but that could just be the season.


It's sorta hard to tell what these are in the picture and in person. I think they're either lotus stems or purple taro stems. Either way, they're used for texture in the fresh salad garnish of soups and noodle dishes. They don't have much flavor, as far as I know - they used for their crispy/spongy texture. My grandfather would sometimes use zuiki (Japanese - sp?) as a bed under a platter of sashimi. It picks up and holds sauce in its bubble structure.


I'm not sure what type of shelling bean this is... This woman shucks to order.


If you've been reading the blog, a phenomena that I have often noticed is the tendency for direct competitors to congregate in one area. Below is the "rice noodle dough district" of the market. Some street vendors and/or restaurants buy their noodles already formed into the size they prefer. But some vendors prefer to shape the noodles themselves, so the dough is available in big blocks. I went to one place that would cut chunks from a block like this, then roll it out on a metal tube, then cut the noodles with a knife off the tube. By the way, those gents sitting in the cyclos to the right were brushing white flour off their pants, so I'm wondering if this dough is made by hand - or actually, by foot. This is strictly an uninformed, wild guess on my part. If they're cyclo (trishaw) drivers, they're probably have very strong legs. Before you start freaking out about kneading noodle dough with feet, traditionally the Japanese knead soba dough with the feet as well, to build up the gluten for good texture. If that's the case, you'd hope that they use some basic sanitation, but I don't want to think about the alternative.


In the world of Vietnamese noodles, as far as I have been able to figure out, bun or hu means rice noodles, mi or my usually means wheat noodles (yellow), and mien means glass or cellophane noodles. The complication is that noodles for mi Quang are yellow from turmeric, but are usually a rice noodle. If I understood the vendor correctly, (she didn't have a sign) this is her version of mi Quang. She presents it in a nice tall stack, but I pushed the herbs aside to show the (L-R) rare beef, seasoned ground beef, some roasted pork, the noodles (definitely wheat), with pickled carrots and purple shallots, herbs, julienned banana blossom, and green onion bulbs. Maybe a few peanuts, I can't remember now. Crisp rice cracker is sometimes offered, but not here. So maybe this is actually called something else. I really should have learned more Vietnamese. Irregardless**, it's pretty dang tasty! I think this was VND 8,000, or about US$0.50.


**Intentional misuse

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