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Sampling Saigon/HCMC

Since I had my little internal boxing match with Mr. Sal Monella, I haven't posted any pictures. Here are a few shots from various days. My apologies for not understanding nor using the diacritical marks.

Mystery fruit #1
I tasted this last night - it full of big seeds surrounded by lurid red, but almost flavorless pulp. It's so red it almost looks like animal organs or something - in an appealing, biological study kind of way.


Mystery fruit #2
Very subtle taste, almost like grapes.


Mystery fruit #3
I haven't tried these yet.


I believe this is a palm seed pod. Palm seed are those semi-translucent chewy jobbies that appear in some SE Asian ice desserts.


This is a lotus seed pod, with a bag full of them on the ground. It grows from it's own stalk, separate from the flower. The seed itself is a bit bigger than an almond, and it's usually cooked with sugar to make a very subtle tasting, starchy-sweet dessert filling.


Again by moto, crossing the river to go to a coffee bar.


The Black River, which is horribly polluted by trash, petroleum products and supposedly bomb residue. As we were standing there, a local boy about 12 years of age was trying to get my attention, acting like he was going in for a swim. i guess he was looking to shock me, so he ramped it up a bit - in broad daylight, he began urinating directly into the river. Seemed to be a troubled young man.


In Ben Thanh market, this is a dish I believe called banh cuon nong. It's a fresh steamed rice noodle/skin that's filled with minced pork and mushrooms, I think. There's some sweet basil, crisp shallots, bean sprouts, chicken loaf and nuoc cham dipping sauce in the bowl. I'm not sure if it's necessary for the noodle/wrapper, but it had acquired a bit of a sour, which I found to be pleasing.

A greasy but delicious banh xeo, or crisp rice flour pancake, filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. As with many things in Vietnamese cuisine, fresh greens and herbs are on the side, and the diner makes little lettuce wraps with the cool, crisp greens and hot banh xeo, then dips the package into the nuoc cham dipping sauce to eat it.


As I understand it, this is a dish of the South called canh chua ca, which is a sweet, hot and sour fish soup. Or maybe sweet, sour and spicy soup. Anyway, there's a nice chunk of fish in there, with tomatoes, okra, bean sprouts, fish sauce, chives, green onions, herbs, crisp shallots and...pineapple. Although this particular one was a bit too sweet for my taste, I'll definitely try more versions of this.


Another prevalent item is rice plates - com. A tiny cart may hold 15-18 items - various pork, chicken, vegetable, and fish dishes, pre-cooked. They dish up a plate of rice, and you point to the items you want with it. Usually a simple soup comes along with it, with some garnish.



Those are some bizarre looking fruits. Everything looks so delicious, especially the rice flour pancake.

Ooooh. This is the sort of stuff I love to see!

The catfish soup, btw, is one of my favorites. Actually, all of the dishes in this post are favorites.

Hope you're enjoying them thoroughly!

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