Among the culinary delights in Hanoi, snail noodle soup is fascinating to many northerners.
The dish, which can be said to have a unique countryside flavor, is pervasive in the capital, from street food stalls to luxury restaurants.
Hanoi-style snail noodle soup has two versions: hot and cool. Hot snail noodle soup is more popular than its cool counterpart. The toppings of the hot soup include fat snails, slices of tomato, slices of tofu and some chopped scallions and leaves of beefsteak plant (perilla).
However, the broth is what really counts. Its sour taste comes from wine vinegar, or giam bong in Vietnamese. The sour flavor of the special ingredient in combination with the distinctive tastes of snails and tomatoes offers a special flavor. The dish will be tastier if chili sauce and shrimp paste are added to it. Aside from the herbs, this Hanoi-style snail noodle soup is also served with sliced banana stem.
The toppings of the dish are quite diverse, including beef, snail paste, pork rib and baluts, to name but a few.
Meanwhile, cool snail noodle soup is a traditional dish in Hanoi. A difference between the hot and cool versions lies in the rice noodles used for the dish. For the cool version, the long strips of noodles come in pieces, not separate strips like in the hot version. The broth is made by boiling snails and of course wine vinegar. Rice noodles are put in a plate and the broth in a small bowl.
According to Hanoians, a cook should use a bamboo ladle while preparing the dish because bamboo wood helps maintain the special flavor of wine vinegar. Even when being served without any herbs, the cool version still attracts food lovers.