ClockThursday, 27/06/2024 08:22

Refreshing vinegar blue jellyfish noodles

TTH.VN - There is a unique dish sold only during summer in Hue, with a cool, refreshing flavor that helps to cool down the body. It's called bún giấm nuốc (vinegar blue jellyfish noodles). Hue's noodle dishes are famously diverse and abundant, too numerous to count on one's ten fingers, with each type having its distinct color and flavor that's hard to confuse with others.

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 Vibrant and eye-catching vinegar blue jellyfish noodles

Nuốc (Catostylus townsendi, or blue jellyfish) are a specialty of the Tam Giang brackish lagoon area, also known by the impressive name: “The spirit of brackish water”. In summer, these “carefree” blue jellyfish surface on the water, allowing fishermen to harvest them with nets. When caught, blue jellyfish have a very unusual blue sheen, and their appearance is similar to jellyfish. Yet, blue jellyfish are “harmless” and have a less fishy taste. Chewing them is crunchy and cool, like having a piece of seaweed jelly in the mouth.

The blue jellyfish vinegar noodles are vibrant and eye-catching, with everything you could imagine: noodles, blue jellyfish, shrimp, sausage, fried rice paper, fresh vegetables, sauce, and shrimp paste. The red of the shrimp, the green of the fresh vegetables, the white of the noodles, and the translucent blue jellyfish create an impressive and refreshing visual experience. The small blue jellyfish hide in the bowl, and without attention, people might not notice their presence. Sometimes, with a "crunch,” I realize I've just bitten into one!

The blue jellyfish vinegar noodles are quite easy to eat, light, and not overwhelming. The main highlight is the sauce and shrimp paste, which creates a delicate yet rich flavor. When enjoying it, we will feel as if we're standing amidst the waves of Tam Giang Lagoon with the gentle salty breeze from the sea. The sauce poured over the noodles is made from finely chopped shrimp, pork, tomatoes, and various spices. It creates a fragrant, slightly rich taste that blends with the shrimp paste, giving the dish its distinctive and unmistakable flavor. Combined with crispy fried rice paper, which makes a delightful crunching sound, you can either crush it or bite into it piece by piece - both ways are delicious.

In Hue, there's only one place selling this dish, located at the beginning of Chi Lang Street, visible as you cross Gia Hoi Bridge. It has no name, just a simple sign: “Bún gim nuc”. The shop only opens in summer when blue jellyfish surface, operating from around 1 PM until they run out of noodles. Though tucked away on a small street, it's always bustling with customers coming and going. This is a favorite dish of mine and my friend's. In the afternoons, we often invite each other to eat the noodles to feel light and refreshed. Even on scorching hot days, our passion for culinary exploration for this dish can't be deterred.

Each table in the shop also features a plate of chili peppers and garlic, catering to those who love spicy food. I take a whole chili pepper, remove the stem, peel a clove of garlic, and add them to my bowl. The spicy heat elevates the dish to a new level, making it more 'mature' and 'robust'. It's not just me - people from Hue truly eat incredibly spicy food, with a habit of adding fish sauce, lemon, garlic, chili, and more before even tasting the original flavor. This is unlike people from the South, who carefully taste first, or sometimes eat the dish as is, without adding or subtracting anything!

Story and photo: Thuc Dan
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