The taste of Lai Vung nem not only helps local households thrive, but also helps many people become rich.
The southern province of Đồng Tháp is proud that fermented pork sausages, a delicacy made in Lai Vung District, have recently been recognised as national intangible cultural heritage.
To preserve and develop the value of the traditional occupation of making fermented pork sausages in Lai Vung District, the Đồng Tháp Museum has since 2020 co-operated with the district’s Culture and Information Department to survey and implement a scientific file to propose the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to add the occupation into the list of national intangible cultural heritage, said Phan Thị Vũ Quyên, director of the museum.
|Đồng Tháp Province’s Lai Vung fermented pork sausages are famous nationwide for their unique flavours. Photo thucphamcohoan.vn
The Lai Vung District specialty, called nem in Vietnamese, was first made popular in the 1960s by a local woman named Nguyễn Thị Mặn, alias Tư Mặn, who lived in Tân Khánh Hamlet, said Quyên.
The nem have a bright pink colour dotted with black peppers, white garlic slices and fresh vông leaves. The taste is lightly sour with sweet, salty and spicy hints all mixed together to create a very refreshing flavour sure to pique your interest.
Mặn said first she made the food for altar offerings to ancestors or for Lunar New Year parties.
“The dish is so tasty with its unique flavour that it attracts and wins the love of my relatives and friends. They come to my house to learn how to make it,” said Mặn, adding that the Lai Vung nem has become an indispensable dish at important parties such as weddings and death anniversaries.
|Lai Vung fermented pork nuggets are now available in supermarkets across the nation. Photo bigomart.vn
Ingredients to make the dish include pork, pork skin, vông aromatic leaves, salt, sugar, garlic, chili and pepper, said Mặn.
Asked about the secret to making such a tasty dish, she said the most important thing is to choose quality fresh lean pork leg, vông leaves, which are used to help the meat naturally ferment. The mixture of finely chopped meat and the other ingredients are wrapped in banana leaves (with its own fragrance) in the form of sausages or nuggets.
|Lai Vung fermented pork eaten with ‘vông’ leaves is unforgettable. Photo ndhvn.com
“The sausage meat is most enjoyable when eaten with vông leaves,” said Mặn, adding that a real recipe is 80 per cent pork mixed with 20 per cent of skin pig (cut into threads) and the wrapping process requires skill as this affects the quality.
The final process is to use one or two layers of banana leaves to carefully wrap the sausage meat, said Mặn, adding that the better it is wrapped, the more quickly it ferments.
|Workers wrap fermented pork nuggets. Photo ndhvn.com
Museum director Quyên said the genuine taste of Lai Vung nem not only helps local households thrive, but also helps many people become rich. They all help to make Đồng Tháp famous nationwide.
Lai Vung nem was recognised among top 10 special fermented pork rolls of Việt Nam by VietKing in 2012.
Currently, Lai Vung nem is available in supermarkets such as Big C and Co-op Mart systems and branches across the nation.