What is nem nuong?
Nem nuong literally means: grilled (nuong) sausage (nem). The dish has been on the menu at the floating market of Cai Rang since the last century. This market, the largest in the Mekong Delta, sells fruit and vegetables from the surrounding fertile region. Every day hundreds of sellers moor their boats on the banks of the river near the city of Can Tho – a breathtakingly colourful sight. Nem nuong is now eaten everywhere in Vietnam, but the dish varies in taste from region to region.
Did you know...
The meat for nem nuong is passed through the meat grinder up to four times for extra finely ground minced meat. A similar effect can be found in Japanese dumplings, or gyoza, which are filled with kneaded pork mince.
How to make nem nuong
Seasonings such as garlic, fish sauce and sugar are kneaded in minced pork with baking and rice powder. The meat is hand-shaped into balls, burgers or sausages and roasted over a fire.
The roasted meat can be served in three ways. The first is as a meat snack on its own.
The second, nem nuong cuon, is a favourite in the south of the country. The roasted meat is served with a bowl of hot water and rice sheets (banh trang), plus a range of side dishes: cucumber, green apple, lettuce, fresh herbs and do chua. Dip a rice sheet in the hot water, put the ingredients of your choice on it, and roll the sheet into a fresh spring roll.
The third way, bun nem nuong, is with rice vermicelli noodles. Fill a bowl with lettuce and fresh herbs, rice noodles, meat and vegetables. Chopped peanuts are sprinkled over the top.
How to eat
Rice rolls with nem nuong are dipped in a sauce of your choice – often nuoc cham or a reddish-brown, sweet sauce made with hoisin sauce and peanuts.
Are you more in the mood for fish? Goi cuon are fresh spring rolls with shrimps instead of pork. If you serve your nem nuong with rice noodles, it looks very similar to bun thit nuong. Grilled pork is the main part of both dishes. Thit nuong features grilled pieces of pork, and nem nuong is made of minced pork.