When travelling to Vietnam, most travelers usually jump at the chance to indulge in cheap and tasty Vietnamese cuisines such as pho, banh mi, banhxeo, etc. However, how many of you have ever tasted roasted pig which is an iconic dish in Lang Son? If you are a Vietnam foodie, here is a great recommendation to make your Vietnam culinary tours unforgettable.
A brief overview
Roasted pig is a traditional pork dish of Tay and Nung people in Lang Son. This dish originated from China thousands of years ago; however, by the clever combination of available ingredients in the local area, people in Lang Son created their own distinguished dish. The pig is cooked on a long spit over charcoal for several hours until it is done. The dish is prepared throughout the year for many special occasions such as festivals, Tet holiday, wedding ceremonies, and new house celebrations of Tay and Nung people. In spring, roasted pig festivals are celebrated annually in some districts to sell and spread the brand. People often think that the roasted pig looks like ornaments because of its attractive color of skin. Let’s have a look at how Tay and Nung people in Lang Son roast a whole pig.
Roasted pig at a festival
- 1 whole pig about 30 – 40 kilograms
- 1 long spit roast skewer
- A handful of “mac mat” leaves
- Dried or fresh “mac mat” fruits
- 100ml honey
- 100ml vinegar
- 400ml water
- Seasoning: Onion, garlic, ginger, salt, glutamate, fish sauce
- Choosing the best pig is the most crucial step. It is not a good idea to choose a pig that is too big because it has more fat and takes more time to roast. If the pig is too small, the finished product will lose a lot of flesh. The best pigs for roasting are less than 40 kilograms and have a fleshy body. While slaughtering, make sure that the cut in the centre of the belly is wide enough (10 – 15 centimeters) to stuff seasonings inside easily.
- “mac mat” leaves are indispensable ingredients which make a Lang Son roasted pig different from others. The best way to maintain the fragrance is dipping the leaves into hot water after washing and drying them.
“mac mat” leaves
- Dried “mac mat” fruits are steeped in 70-80 Degree Celsius hot water for 20 minutes. Fresh fruits are more fragrant than dried ones.
Fresh “mac mat” fruits
- Skewer the pig on the spit.
- Pour the mixture of “mac mat” fruits, ginger, garlic, salt, and glutamate into the pig belly. Make sure that the mixture is rubbed thoroughly inside to help the pork absorb all the seasonings.
- Stuff all “mac mat” leaves inside the pig.
- Stitch up the stomach cavity using a needle and thread to ensure the stuffing will not break open releasing juices and flavours. Stitching a pig is much more difficult than stitching clothes. Therefore, you have to be skilled at this.
- Dry up the outside of the pig with a clean cloth.
The coloring process
- Before roasting process: Apply a mixed solution made of honey and vinegar on the entire skin of the pig. The skin will absorb the solution easily if you rub it firmly.
- During the rotation: Tie a small cloth to a long thin stick used to continually spread the mixed solution on the pig’s body.
These two steps play the most important role in making the roasted pig the desired shiny brown color.
The roasting process
After the coloring is done, the unroasted pig is placed over the charcoal. The locals in Lang Son often put the spit on an electric motor to rotate the pig automatically. Therefore, they can sit back, relaxs and only check whether the pig is burning or if the coal is still hot or not . If there is no electric motor, you can turn the pig with your hands regularly. Make sure that the coals are heated at the two sides of the pig and there is no coal under the roasting pig. The best way to keep the skin from bursting is to thrust a long needle on the swollen part of the skin while it is being roasted.
The pig is being roasted
Roasting a pig is a challenge of patience, because cooking on a spit is a long process. It often takes about 2 - 3 hours to finish. The time it takes depends on the size of the pig and the heat of the coal. When it is almost done, you have to rotate the pig slowly.
After about 3 hours, the roasted pig has the fragrance of “mac mat” leaves and the greasiness of pork. When it is done, the pigskin is shiny brown and crispy,and the meat looks nice and moist. In Lang Son, the roasted pig is usually served with the sauce inside it.
The pig after it is done
To recap, a Vietnam culinary tour offers you an overview of how a roasted pig in Lang Son is compared to other types of roasted pig in the world. If you wish to know more about the secrets to making such delicious food, a Vietnam tailor-made tour offers you a chance to go to the locals’ house to further explore.