Coconut tree is a symbol of Ben Tre land as well as a “backbone” of Ben Tre people. Thus, you will be flooded in a lush cuisine made from coconut: coconut candy (kẹo dừa), fried banana with coconut milk (chuối xào dừa), cake wrapped in coconut leaf (bánh lá dừa), snakehead fish steamed with coconut water (mắm lóc chưng nước cốt dừa) banana simmered with coconut milk (chuối hầm dừa), coconut blade salad (gỏi cũ hủ dừa) and so on.
Daily Travel will introduce you 2 distinctive dishes of Ben Tre in this article: Coconut rice and Roasted small shrimp with coconut juice
1. Coconut rice (Cơm dừa)
It is not difficult to make this food. You only need delicious rice which has a sweet aromatic fragrance, a steamer, and some coconuts to make the dish. First, you have to peel freshly an outer layer and a fibrous husk of the coconut. Use the sharp knife to cut the top of the coconut let the water out, flatten the bottom and use the coconut as the cooking pot
Place the rice in a colander or sieve and rinse in the cold water. Then, drain the rice. After that, place the rice in coconuts, add enough coconut water (enough to cover the surface of the rice) and put the lids on the coconuts. The hardest part is to measure the right amount of coconut juice, if there is too much water, the rice is wet, too little and the rice is dried. Finally, put all the coconuts in a steamer and leave the rice to simmer for about 1 hour, until the water is absorbed all and the rice becomes soft.
There are many variations of this excellent ad unique coconut rice
When the coconut rice is cooked, it is better to keep warm in a steamer and only take the coconut out when it is ready to use. If the rice is brought out early, it will become cold and yellow. One tip to enjoy all the tastiness is to eat with roasted shrimp with coconut water.
2. Roasted shrimp with coconut water (tép rang dừa)
This kind of shrimp is called “tep” in Vietnamese, and it mainly live in countryside field in Vietnam.
Roasted shrimp with coconut milk is the most suitable food to go together with the coconut rice
First of all, the ingredients is included: 200 grams fresh shrimp, 100 grams coconut milk (made from dry and small coconuts). Cut all heads and tails of the shrimps and wash them in cold water. After that, put the shrimps in a pan and pour coconut milk into the shrimps. Cook the mixture in low heat for few minutes. Add more spices, including salt and sugar for seasoning. When the shrimps turn into a beautiful red color, turn on the heat, stir the shrimps with chopsticks to absorb the spices. The food is ready when all coconut milk is soaked in the shrimps.
An attractive plate filled with shinny roasted shrimps
A perfect Ben Tre meal only includes few coconuts with coconut rice inside, a plate of roasted shrimp with coconut milk set on a table. Use a spoon to scoop coconut rice with one or two shrimps into your mouth and slowly chew, you will feel the mild sweetness of the rice, the distinctively aromatic fragrance of coconut water mixed with the salty, greasy and crunchy flavors of the shrimps spreading to all your senses and make you cannot stop eating.