Bun dau mam tom is one of simple dishes of Hanoians. You can find bun dau mam tom everywhere from street stalls on the road side to crowded markets…..
Bun dau mam tom recipe is quite easy, it’s the combination of rice noodles, deep-fried tofu, fermented shrimp paste, served with some herbs such as Vietnamese balm, perilla leaves and some sliced fresh chilies, kumquat juice… It’s the original bun dau mam tom recipe, afterwards bun dau mam tom is often added boiled meat, Vietnamese sweet rice flake meatballs (Chả cốm), fired pig organs (Lòng rán)…
Simply like that but the “soul” of bun dau mam tom is the concoction of mam tom. The success or failure of bun dau mam tom recipe depends on process of mam tom. To many foreigners “mam tom” is one of the most smelly foods in Viet Nam and it’s a really big challenge for them. However if you pass over this feeling, maybe you can be addicted to the salty, strong smell of “mam tom”.
With some people don’t like the smell of “mam tom” they choose fish sauce instead, but do you know why we call the name “ bun dau mam tom”. Bun dau and mam tom are 2 indispensable parts that they can’t be separated. The absence of “mam tom” can lose the typical flavor of this dish.
Mam tom used with bun dau need to be concocted, it is the combination from a little sour of kumquat juice, a little spicy of sliced fresh chilies, a little sweet from sugar. The mixture of mam tom will be stir very well until creating foam. It’s the way to reduce the strong smell but still keep the particular taste of mam tom.
If we call “mam tom” is the soul of this dish, the herbs can be the spices to make the typical flavor bun dau mam tom. Bun dau mam tom can lose the typical flavor if lack of spicy taste of Vietnamese balm, perilla leaves….
The bun dau mam tom recipe is really simple, isn’t it? You can yourself make it at home with some flowing steps:
1.Ingredients for bun dau mam tom recipe
- 4 blocks of tofu
- 1 kg rice noodle
- 1 bottle fermented shrimp paste
- Herbs: Vietnamese balm, perilla leaves, cucumbers, mint
- Sugar, fresh chilies, kumquat juice
2.Process of making bun dau mam tom recipe
Fry the tofu:
There 2 ways to fry tofu: fry cut-piece tofu or fry whole piece of tofu. I prefer keep whole piece to fry and cutting it when serving.
Put a pan on high heat then add huge amount of oil. Deep-fry tofu cubes until crunchy and turning golden brown. Rotate pieces of tofu quickly to have nice golden both sides of tofu.
Tips: Deep-fry tofu with low heat and don’t rotate too much to avoid crushing tofu.
Concocting mam tom:
- Place amount of fermented shrimp paste as you desire into a bowl
- Season sugar, kumquat juice then stir well until creating foams
- Add 1-2 tbsp hot oil from the frying tofu pan
- Add some sliced fresh chilies
- Stir again a little to mix all ingredients
Now we have a bowl with adequate flavor: spicy, sour, salty and sweet.
Assemble the dish:
In some restaurants bun dau mam tom is often assembled in a small winnowing basket ( cái mẹt).
- Cut rice noodle into mouth-sized pieces then place to winnowing basket
- Cut fried tofu into mouth-sized piece then place beside noodle
- Place a bowl of mam tom at the center of the winnowing basket
- Garnish with prepared herbs: Vietnamese balm, perilla leaves, sliced cucumbers…
Beside main ingredients of bun dau, you can add some the young green sticky rice rolls, boiled meat, fried pig organs to have a fulfilled winnowing basket.