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Cu Lao is a must-have dish at every wedding in the South-Western part of Vietnam. It is customary for the bridgegroom’s family to offer the bride’s family a 100-kilogram pig and money to buy other related food to treat relatives, friends and neighbors.
All the dishes served at the wedding are made from the pig. The appetizer is often shredded pork rolls, grilled ground pork or spring rolls, followed by salad, and la-gu or pork stew with white beans paired with bread. The most important dish is Cu Lao served with vermicelli, and caramelized pork with coconut juice served with rice.
Cu Lao is an elegent hotpot dish. Its natural, sweet broth is made from from bones, dried shrimps and dried squid. Added to the broth are cabbage, carrots, dried pork skin, pork heart, pork liver and knife fish roll with an egg wrap or a shrimp roll. Served hot, it is very delicious.
In Western Vietnam, when neighbors see wedding backdrops or hear wedding songs they no longer have to ask, “When will you offer me Cu Lao?”
These days Cu Lao is sometimes replaced by other foods. People forget the importance of serving Cu Lao, a recipe handed down from their grand parents. Cu Lao represents elegance, sweetness, and love – found at the heart of married life.
- 100g of pork heart
- 100g of pork liver
- 1kg shank bone
- 200g thigh meat
- 200g knifefish fillet
- 2 duck eggs
- 1 piece of dried pork skin
- 50g dried shrimp
- 1 small grilled dried squid
- 1 bean curd sheet
- 100g lean minced pork
- 200g prawn
- 10 boiled quail eggs, peeled
- 100g cabbage
- 1 carrot
- 1 white radish
- 2 green onions
- 2 bunches coriander
- Condiments: salt, fish sauce, sugar, pepper.
- Poach shank bone quickly in boiled water to wash. Simmer shank bone, dried shrimp, dried squid, white radish with 2L of water until there is just 1L of broth left. Add ½ tsp. of salt, ½ tsp. of sugar.
- Slice pork heart and pork liver into pieces and boil quickly.
- Mix knifefish fillet with green onion, ¼ tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. of fish sauce until chewy. Scramble eggs and cook into a thin sheet, spread knifefish fillet onto the scrambled egg sheet, make into a roll, steam and slice into small pieces.
- Cut pork skin into pieces; soak in ginger water to wash and rinse. Squeeze dry and fry with garlic.
- Soak bean curd sheet until soft. Peel and devein the prawns, wash with salt, rinse and let dry. Blend prawns together and mix with minced port, minced shallot, green onion, ¼ tsp. of pepper, ¼ tsp. of salt. Spread half of prawn paste onto bean curd sheet and roll it up. Wrap the remaining paste around the quail eggs. Then steam all of them.
- Marinate leg meat with minced garlic, ½ tsp. of fish sauce for 30 minutes to absorb, then stir-fry until golden. Cut into slices.
- Cut carrot and cabbage into small pieces then put all ingredients in Cu Lao, add broth, add coriander on top. Boil. Serve with rice vermicelli.