Binh Dinh’s fermented pork specialty: coming soon for Tet!

Here is what I love about my Vietnam… you will find exotic dishes prepared with love by people who respect their family tradition. Aren’t the best holiday meals the meals prepared by our mothers and grandmothers? #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Binh Dinh's fermented pork specialty: coming soon for Tet!

The fermented pork meat is mixed with other ingredients and spices. Photo by Khanh ThienIf you’re an adventurous eater, then try tre tron – Binh Dinh Province’s traditional mixture of fermented shredded pork meat, kumquat juice, beef and garlic.

The dish is most commonly seen on holidays and is one of Binh Dinh natives’ favorite Lunar New Year (Tet) dishes. The main ingredient is tre, or fermented pork meat. The dish is an incredible blend of tastes: from its sour fermented pork rolls and kumquat juice, to its savory beef and pork rolls, to extreme pungency from the extra garlic on top. Dig in, and the different kinds of flavors never stop coming.

The fermented shredded pork meat is mixed with all kinds of salty, sweet, sour and spicyflavors. Photo by Khanh Thien

The fermented shredded pork meat is mixed with all kinds of salty, sweet, sour and spicy flavors. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien

According to Ba, a vendor on Nguyen Thuong Hien Street (District 3, Ho Chi Minh City), in Binh Dinh tre is made from boiled pork meat, ears and skin, cooked for just long enough to keep its crispiness. One way to give the meat a brighter color and more fragrant taste is to add vinegar to the water boiling the meat. After cooking, the meat is soaked in cold water to make it firm and help the fermentation process succeed. This step also makes sure the tre not become sticky.

Another crucial ingredient that also plays an important part in the dish is fried pork belly. All the ingredients will be chopped and mixed with spices such as pepper, sliced galangal root, roasted sesame, salt, powdered grilled rice, garlic, and sugar. The ingredients will be left to absorb all the seasoning for about one to two hours of marination.

In Binh Dinh, people use old guava leaves to wrap the fermented pork meat. Ba said that wrapping the tre is a process that requires ingenuity to make the dish more fragrant and reduce the fatty taste of meat. The fermented pork meat wrapped in guava leaves is wrapped again in a plastic cover, and it is tightly bundled with dry straw on the outside. After three days of fermenting, the tre can finally be enjoyed.

Ba added that there are many ways to enjoy tre. The people of Binh Dinh normally mix it with more ingredients and spices to create its famous out-of-this-world flavor. After removing the plastic cover and the guava leaves, the tre is placed in a small bowl. The cook then use chopsticks to break up the fermented pork meat into small pieces, and then adds previously cooked savory sliced pork and beef rolls.

Fermented pork ears and pork rolls help elevate the taste of tré trộn from the north-centralprovince of Binh Dinh. Photo by Khanh Thien

Fermented pork ears and pork rolls help elevate the taste of tre mix from the south-central province of Binh Dinh. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien

In order to create the special flavor for the dish, mangoes, ambarella, cucumbers, garlic and fresh chili, salt and pepper, kumquat, and Vietnamese coriander are chopped into small pieces and mixed with the tre. The dish is served with fried shrimp crackers.

Having a bite of a shrimp cracker topped with tre and other ingredients, you can taste all the sour, spicy, salty, sweet flavors of the universe. With the crunchy texture of the pork ears, this unusual combination of flavors produces such a fantastic taste!

In Ho Chi Minh City, on both sides of Nguyen Thuong Hien Street, District 3, there are numerous vendors selling the Binh Dinh original mixed fermented pork meat dish. Each order costs about VND50,000 (US$2.13).

By Khanh Thien for

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