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By: Le Xuan

Vietnam boasts myriad unique and mouthwatering delicacies. Each region is known for its own foods that deliver the soul of their origin. They keep the essence of an area, despite a tumultuous history.

At first sight, Hanoi grilled pork with vermicelli is far from special because all its key ingredients are readily available in the marketplace. Grilled pork with vermicelli needs no mysterious spices or special, seasonal ingredients. To some extent, Hanoi’s grilled pork vermicelli is beautifully simple.

Ingredients include rice vermicelli, minced pork or bacon and veggies such as red onion, garlic, chilli, grated green papaya, carrot and some herbs. Just the smell of grilled pork makes passers by stop and ask to be served.

Strangely enough, only in Hanoi, where people are more picky and critical of every single detail when it comes to food, grilled pork with vermicelli is praised as cuisine art. It embodies delicate gastronomy because to make it properly is not easy.

Grilled pork is divided into two types, pork balls and bacon slices. Both are grilled to retain their strong aroma and taste. More elaborate people even add a wrap of betel leaf to keep the balls from being scorched and make it tastier.

The signature street food of Hanoi.
The signature street food of Hanoi.

For pork slices, half fatty pork bacon is selected, marinated overnight and grilled. It’s the harmonious blend of spices by Hanoians that give the pork balls a distinctive flavour.

Onions are added to enhance its aroma, caramelised sugar water to make it more colorful, fish sauce to enhance the taste and sugar to accentuate the umami.

Grilled pork is then directly put into a bowl of sauce that is tenderly mixed so that it’s savoury enough to serve with vermicelli and does not overpower the sweet, meaty taste of pork. Each family has their own recipe for the sauce and family-run restaurants fascinate customers.

Rice vermicelli should be cut and placed into the dish neatly, making it easy for chopsticks. The threads must be chewy, soft, white and slender, not as big as Hue vermicelli or as tough as Saigon’s.

Grilled pork vermicelli is attractive in its small details. Refined and sophisticated Hanoians turn simple and insignificant ingredients into a symbol of street food.

“A thousand years of treasures in Thang Long,
Should it be the grilled pork with vermicelli?”

Thach Lam, author