In Hoi An, Viet Nam, we have little clams with a big story that reflects many important cultural elements of our country.
Mother Nature gifts each area in the world with amazing features. Maine, USA is famous internationally for its fierce lobsters, while Kobe Land, Japan is renowned for its super delicious beef. In Hoi An, Vietnam, we have little clams with a big story that reflects many important cultural elements of our country. All of these foods are meaningful and contribute strongly to the world’s beauty. Let’s go!
If you have to put up with urban noise and the rapid pace of the city every day, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you arrive in Hoi An. The atmosphere here seems to be entirely removed from the frantic routine of modern life – tender, slow, and peaceful just like the feeling you get on a glorious sunny day. You will love to discover the story behind the small riverside houses, the traditional wooden fishing boats, and the old ladies with their grandchildren on a clam digging trip in the early afternoon.
“Clam digging.” These words are easy to say, but the reality of what’s required is not. Phuot3mien.com wants to show you all the interesting things in Vietnam that you might not otherwise have a chance to witness. That’s why today we’re going on a clam digging expedition before going to the stirred-clam street food stall to enjoy these delectable river treats.
Our guides today are also exceptional. You’ll meet an 80-year-old lady and an eight-year-old little girl. Does it sound a bit crazy? It’s not. But you’re going to have to watch the video with your own eyes, to understand the incredible things they do.
With the sun beating down at 37-degrees-Celsius, our intrepid grandma paddles a small boat to the middle of the river. With her niece assisting, they wade into the water and use a huge rake to trap anything that swims in the river.
Their hands are fast and skillful as they repeatedly catch and wash the tiny mollusks, then put them into flat bamboo pans. One hour later, they have a basket full of shimmering clams just like the picture below. And then, quite satisfied with their catch for the day, they row back towards the shore with beaming smiles on their faces.
This daily work routine has given our 80-year-old wonder woman extraordinary strength which surprises many people and thereby earns their utmost respect. These two women live in a tiny, ramshackle house that immediately makes you feel a bit emotional and worried about their well-being, but the truth is entirely the opposite. The old woman and her niece are extremely content and satisfied with what they have: a peaceful life.
This daily work routine has given our 80-year-old wonder woman extraordinary strength which surprises many people and earns their utmost respect.
Now that we know how to catch these water dwellers, let’s move on to the yummiest part of the day: cooking and eating the clams. There are also many other dishes worth waiting for besides these…so let’s dive on in.
Stirred clam (Hen xuc) and “smash” cake (Banh dap) are two dishes that are usually served together for one straightforward reason: If you eat just one, you’ll never feel full. So Onetrip will show you a place that has both.
We find our delicious snack on a very typical Vietnamese food trolley, owned by Ms. Thơm, a friendly and hospitable woman. At four o’clock every afternoon, she pushes the wooden cart to Cam Nam Bridge and sets out her plastic tables and chairs. It’s very basic, and you’ll probably enjoy the space with a flock of chickens running around in the sunset. But even with these simple facilities, people keep coming back for her amazing “smash” cake special sauce and the incredible sight of hot stirred clams.
This lovely little cart is always crowded, so her two bags of rice crackers are usually sold out within a few hours. So if you want to enjoy them, you have to come early.
It only takes five minutes to prepare a clam dish and two minutes to get a plate of “smash” cake.
To eat, first, stir the clam dish. Combine them with tasty ingredients such as peanuts, onions, salt, and pepper, then stir them well to spread the flavors evenly. And, ta-da, you’re ready to enjoy this yummy and significant Hoi An food.
For more delicious Hoi An eats, click here!
How to eat hen xuc and banh dap
The way to eat it is easy. Break the rice crackers into two small pieces, then use them as spoons to put the clams into your mouth. Another way is to place the clams on one piece of cracker then place the remaining bit on top (like a hamburger) and slowly enjoy it.
You will feel the sweet taste of the clam mixed with the spicy, salty taste of pepper. We don’t actually add too much seasoning to this dish, so we preserve the original taste of the river clam.
The “smash” cake, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter and comes in combination with several different strong tasting condiments such as anchovies and super condensed chili sauce. Why do we call it “smash” cake? Because you actually have to smash it before eating it. That’s the only way to make the two rice crackers stick tightly to the steamed rice cake between them.
Break the rice crackers into two small pieces, then use them as spoons to put the clams into your mouth.
It might look a bit simple and boring at first, but the moment you dip it into the delicious mixture of anchovy, chili sauce, and fried onion and pop it into your mouth, you will almost definitely change your mind. The spicy, salty, and crunchy texture and taste harmonizes with the rice cake and becomes a delectable flavor bomb in your mouth. Believe Onetrip when they say it’s a truly perfect treat. Usually, people won’t stop at one smash cake and one dish of stirred clams. But as we mentioned before, you have to come early, so you can have as much as you want.
The following information is essential if you want to have this experience when you come to Hoi An. But if you can’t find the place by yourself, get in touch with Onetrip to make sure you won’t miss this fantastic traditional food. They also serve “banh beo” with yummy pork-shrimp sauce, so check out the video for more savory moments.
Name of restaurant: Banh Dap Miss Thom.
Address: Cam Nam Bridge near Hoi An Market
Operating hours: 4 PM – 7 PM
If you enjoyed this article, and would like more tips on what to do, see, and eat in Vietnam, follow the Phuot 3 Mien Blog! See you next time!