Vietnamese Fermented Pork Roll (Nem chua)
Wandering around the Old Quarter in the evening, you can easily be intrigued by the appetizing aroma and the greasy sweet taste of sizzling fermented pork roll grilled on barbecue over charcoals. It is well known that the traditional fermented pork roll is not less unique and addictive compared to its grilled one and that each region in Vietnam brings you different nem chua flavors, all of them are indeed delicious.
Made from rustic ingredients, namely ground pork thigh, minced pork skin, chili, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, salt, those are mixed, pressed and then naturally fermented by tender fig or guava leaves, nem chua has a very characteristic sour, acquired sweet, garlicky and salty taste with a nice crunch of pork rinds. While the fig leaf cover can be eaten with nem chua, creating a special acrid taste, the banana leaf cover makes its flavor more subtle and attractive. Both traditional nem chua and grilled one are served with chutney mingled with squeezed kumquat or spicy fish sauce added lemon juice.
Besides, it is common to enjoy the grilled with fruits such as star fruit, green mango, jícama, not only reducing fatty taste but also whetting appetite. Just a look is enough for guests to salivate over the thought of savoring each bite of nem chua. More interestingly, while nem chua of the north in general and of Thanh Hoa province in particular is in favor of sour taste and has subtle fragrance of fern-leaf aralia, the southern one prefers sweet and spicy added by powered grilled rice and pepper. Therefore, there are more choices for gastronomists to enjoy.