Few people know that the rustic but delicious banh canh Ben Co (Ben Co rice noodle soup), now a famous dish in the south, originated in a small roadside eatery on National Highway 53 in Ben Co Hamlet, Nguyet Hoa Commune, Chau Thanh District, Tra Vinh Province.
In the past, many people who had a chance to pass by Ben Co Hamlet often visited the restaurant. Thanks to its local fame, banh canh Ben Co became known not only in the Mekong Delta but in Saigon and has been brought to several national food festivals.
Ingredients for making the dish include lean meat, pig bowels, rice noodle and spices. Apart from spices, the noodle itself plays a role in ensuring the quality of a bowl of banh canh Ben Co. The noodles must be made from old rice, which is harvested in May and stored until October because new rice makes noodles soft and easily broken.
Rice will be ground in water to become flour. After that, people would work the flour into dough, which will then go through a funnel into boiling water before it is quickly taken out and then dipped into cold water for five minutes.
To have clear and sweet broth, pig’s meat and bones must be carefully chosen and cleaned before they are stewed over a small fire. Froth is taken out continuously to make the broth clear. The pot of broth will be added with onions and grilled shallots to make the taste sweeter and more fragrant.
Lean meat and pig’s bowels are cleaned with salt and lemon as a way to deodorize them. Then, they are boiled with a small spoon of vinegar to make them white. They will not be boiled in the broth or else it will be cloudy.
A bowl of banh canh Ben Co will have a layer of banh canh which is covered with boiled meat and bowels, green onions, and pepper before the broth is poured over. It is served with a small bowl of fish sauce and lime.