Back in Nam, it's a doggy dog world.

Bình Phước Province. December 2o1o.

Grilled goat udders. Saigon Beers. Snake hot pot. Ngọc Dương liquor. Late night karaoke session. More Saigon brews. Bed.

The next morning was a veritable grog-fest, and by 10 A.M. it's already searing outside in Phước Long. The mouth is dry and crusty like a day old baguette..need some aqua. This actually wasn't my main concern. In my happy-go-lucky stupor I had willingly agreed the previous night to a breakfast date of dog with a freshly met acquaintance. Normally not something I'd be apprehensive about but this morning my bowels were feeling dangerously volatile. Oh, there's the doorbell. Looks like it's brekkie time.

Như had sung the praises of this spot several times over the course of the previous night's festivities, so my curiosity was piqued. I had only sampled dog once before, and that was in South Korea where it came shredded in a spicy soup. In Vietnam there's quite the demand for canine- so much so that tens of thousands of dogs are smuggled from northeast Thailand each month. Như assured me we'd be eating local dogs in order to reduce our carbon footprint. Mind: at ease.

I'll admit bacon and eggs sounded better, but how often to you get the chance to enjoy boiled dog, fermented shrimp paste and rice whiskey for breakfast?! Not every day. Actually this plate of simmered bits and pieces was not my thing. Way to much floppy fat. Instead I decided to hit the bottle of rice wine to 'see what happens'- which by the way is completely different than winging it.

After unsuccessfully gnawing through bits of stringy meat, I was delighted to see the next dish arrive. Grilled chunks of dog coated with sesame seeds and a layer of finely minced lemongrass. The whole deal was grilled to the brink of blackened..just the way global likes it. I also appreciated the fresh herbs and roots on the side. Take a leaf the Vietnamese call lá mơ, drop your grilled hound nugget in the center, add more fresh lemongrass, galangal (riềng), then roll and dip in aforementioned mắm tôm [purple shrimp paste] for a mélange of textures and fragrances. Ngon dễ sợ!!

For dessert, some crisp-skinned roasted pork belly along with the usual suspects. What a morning. What a country.

Stay Resolute.


Megan said...

not my favorite post topic...

Carolyn Jung said...

Wow, you're brave. I don't necessarily have an aversion to dog, as I know in so many parts of the world, people must eat whatever protein sources there are that are plentiful and cheap. But when you're raised in a country, where pooches are pets and treated almost like a member of the family, I can see why people get very freaked out about this. But hey, we all eat some things that other folks would find odd and downright unpleasant. That's just the nature of different tastes and different cultures.

Reima said...

I was going to say 'naw' but then again I just can't say it's a bad thing because they eat it there and that's normal to them. So do what you want and post anything!

Jai said...

For breakfast... Hmmm?
Actually, Andrea Nguyen did a post on her sight "Vietnamese World Kitchen" before the holidays, and received an avalanche of commentary. I'll try anything once... people say it has a aroma and flavor similar to Lamb. True?

Andrea said...

They got any amazing amount of crackly skin on the roasted dog. Wow! Nice post.

Andrea said...

Wait, that wasn't dog I was looking at. It was pork. Nevertheless that thit heo quay had an astronomical amount of crackly skin.

Mai said...

Yay you're back in VN. And boo on the dog! Người miền Nam không chơi thịt chó, nên giờ anh thành dân Bắc Kỳ rồi đó ;))

A. Rizzi said...

@ Megan: Couldn't bail on an invitation to dine, that'd be rude. :)

@ Caroline: Right on the money- except that in Viet Nam dog is considered a (relatively) expensive source of protein.

@ Reima: Depending where you are and who you talk to..I know many Vietnamese (in Vietnam) who have never sampled, and are disgusted by the thought of eating Lassie. Not outlawed or unthinkable, although even here it's not considered an everyday meal.

@ Jai: Well, Yea I slept in a bit...headache! I'd say the boiled bit was a bit lamb-esque in aroma now that I think about it. The flavor from the grilled doggie bites was harder to pick up as it was coated in that lemongrass. Sample!

@ Andrea: That belly-skin was crispix. Believe.

@ Mai: Người miền Nam chơi chứ!! ít hơn miền Bắc mà có. The only thing I could tell you about northerners is: Bắc kỳ con..bỏ vào lon..kêu chíp chíp...bỏ vào đít- hết kêu!!!

Mai said...

haha wut?! I've never heard that! Is it supposed to mean anything?

A. Rizzi said...

Just a lil rhyme my friend told me...he prolly made it up haha.

Anonymous said...

Rolling in Cali? Post some grub from SF!


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