I don’t know whether it’s demand-pull or supply-push, but seems like there’s an infinite supply of banh trang in Danang, and the local people can come up with a hundred ways to eat banh trang without getting fed up with it. In this entry I’m gonna introduce some special methods of using and eating banh trang in Danang. ‘Special’ because I don’t think there’s any Danang’ Gen Y who have spent their teenage time in Danang not knowing about and craving for these banh trang snacks.
It all started about 10+ years ago when the little triangle sesame banh trang became ubiquitous among the student community in Danang. At first it was processed as simply as brushing a bit of salted shrimp paste (mắm ruốc) or chilli sauce (tương ớt) on to the surface and then grilling over hot charcoal. Like this one below, simple as it is, after so many years still remains my favourite:
Then in order to satisfy the easy-to-get-bored teenagers, the sellers would soften banh trang with water, rolling it over small bits of beef/fish jerky, and quickly grilling over charcoal. It stopped at that level during my teenage time.
As I got older and spent 5 years away from home, when I came back I was amazed by how far Danang’s creativity with banh trang has come. More ingredients and cooking methods are used to diversify these banh trang snacks. Like the one below, it is filled with fried shallot and beef jerky, and coated with lemongrass to create an interesting taste. Another favourite of mine.
Bánh tráng cuộn – Grilled banh trang filled with beef jerky and coated with lemongrass
If there’s anything that can make me salivate within less than a second, it must be the next photo. Fillings include pate, quail egg, fried shallot and spring onion. As everything is wrapped inside banh trang, they are still hot and very juicy. Gosh it was so good.
Bánh tráng patê
Then the next one called bánh tráng patê khô, literally dried banh trang with pate, has the same ingredients as the previous one, but instead of wrapping everything up inside, the seller’d grill them flat. To be honest, I didn’t quite like this one as there were too much fried shallot.
Bánh tráng patê khô
Next, we have bánh tráng trộn or banh trang salad. This is a very interesting concept to me because normally banh trang is just used as topping for salad, here it is the main ingredient of the salad itself. In fact I just tried it this afternoon for the first time. Much better than my expectation, I must say. The lady mixed thin and long strips of banh trang with a special sauce made from beef jerky called tương bò khô, rau răm (Vietnamese mint), chả, pork liver, boiled quail egg and roasted peanuts. The sauce softened banh trang strips and combined with other ingredients, the dish tasted interestingly good.
Bánh tráng trộn
As these banh trang are just cheap snacks for students, the shops are often small pavement vendors, and of course, don’t expect that food are cooked in the most hygienic environment. One of the few shops that sells awesome banh trang and importantly don’t give me stomachache is at 357/6 Phan Chu Trinh (opposite Duc Tri kindergarten). They offer proper seating and a cute cook!
Video took at this shop:
For bánh tráng trộn, you will have to go to Ha Thi Than street (opposite 35 Ha Thi Than – at the back of Le Quy Don high school). This is a pavement vendor but looks quite clean.
The list goes on: this entry is named “Viet creativity with banh trang” for a reason! If you want me to write more about other types of these banh trang snacks, leave a request in the comment box below. For now, hope you enjoy a part of food culture of Danang youngsters!
Bánh tráng trứng – With quail eggs and spring onion
– 357/6 Phan Chu Trinh (opposite Duc Tri kindergarten)
– K11/5A Lê Đại Hành (Go into the little alley at 258 Phan Chu Trinh, turn right at the first intersection, the shop is right on the left side)
– 64 Thái Phiên (recommended)
– Bánh tráng trộn: opposite 35 Ha Thi Than (at the back of Le Quy Don high school)
Summer created Danangcuisine.com in 2010 to share her eating experience in her hometown Da Nang and other cities around Viet Nam and Asia. She also runs the Funtastic hostels, Food tour and Cooking class in Danang.