In Ha Tinh, it is easy to see small eateries with signs saying Ram – Banh muot. Ram is a Ha Tinh dish which is similar to fried spring rolls made across the country while banh muot is the local term for banh cuon and banh uot (steamed rice rolls) in other localities.
Two portions of banh muot ram cost about VND45,000 ($2). Photo by VnExpress/Bao Ngan.
The ram is uniformly made to a width of about two fingers. The tighter it is rolled, the more the filling stays inside without spilling. The filling typically consists of finely minced pork, vermicelli, scallions, cilantro, culantro, and assorted spices. The strong herbal aroma and subtle bitterness of the culantro create a one-of-a-kind flavor for Ha Tinh’s ram.
The rice paper used to make ram is thicker than that for spring rolls in other localities and has a yellow tint from molasses. After being wrapped, the ram is deep fried for three to four minutes.
The dough for the banh muot is made from glutinous rice flour. The rice is ground and milled fine, water is added and left to rest overnight. When making the dough mixture, the chef has to be careful and use just the right amount of flour so that the final product has a thin, chewy, fragrant and smooth texture.
Another unique feature of the dish is that you use your hands to assemble it when eating, wrapping the warm ram in the banh muot.
If you feel like switching things, opt instead for a traditional sausage filling. For additional flavor, finish off with a generous sprinkling of fried onion slices.
As a breakfast option it is well loved by locals. Phuong Bao, a diner, said: “Despite the variety of delicacies that is now available to me, I can’t seem to forget the taste and texture of a simple plate of banh muot ram from home. If you return home to Ha Tinh from work or school far away and don’t eat at least a plate or two, you are not a Ha Tinh native.”
Ram should be enjoyed while still warm and crispy since it hardens as it cools down. Photo by VnExpress/Bao Ngan.
According to ram banh muot sellers, the dipping sauce is a deciding factor in the dish’s taste. The most common option is a local artisanal shrimp paste and sugar mixture that has a golden hue. You can customize it with minced garlic, lime and chili.
Recommended banh muot ram eateries in Ha Tinh:
-Nham Phu eatery in Alley 20, Nguyen Du Street, Bac Ha Ward
-Madam Lai’s (Ba Lai’s ) at 5 Vo Liem Son Street, Nam Ha Ward
-Ram Banh Muot at 15 Nguyen Bieu Street, Nam Ha Ward
-Madam Dieu’s (Ba Dieu’s) in Alley 7, Xuan Dieu Street, Bac Ha Ward