Exploring the Flavors of Ba Bể: Traditional Dishes and Recipes

Nestled in the northern mountains of Vietnam, Ba Bể is not only known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage but also for its unique and delicious cuisine. The traditional foods of the Tay, Dao, and H’mong people offer a culinary adventure that reflects the diversity and history of this region.

In this post, we will dive into some of the most popular dishes and provide recipes for you to try at home.

The Tay People’s Cuisine

1. Lạp Xưởng (Tay Sausage)

Lạp Xưởng is a traditional sausage made from pork, rice, and a variety of local spices. It is known for its rich flavor and slightly sweet taste.


  • Pork belly: 1 kg
  • Sticky rice: 200 grams
  • Salt, sugar, and pepper to taste
  • Pork casing


  1. Prepare the Pork: Cut the pork belly into small pieces and mix with salt, sugar, and pepper and clean intestines
  2. Cook the Sticky Rice: Steam the sticky rice until soft.
  3. Mix: Combine the seasoned pork with the cooked sticky rice.
  4. Stuff the Casings: Use the pork casing to stuff the mixture, forming sausages.
  5. Dry: Hang the sausages in a cool, dry place for a few days to allow them to dry and ferment.

Lạp Xưởng can be grilled or fried and is often served with fresh herbs and sticky rice.

2. Xôi Nếp Ngũ Sắc (Five-Color Sticky Rice)

This colorful dish is not only visually appealing but also holds cultural significance for the Tay people. It is typically made during festivals and special occasions.


  • Sticky rice: 1 kg
  • Natural coloring agents (such as leaves and flowers)
  • Salt and sugar to taste


  1. Color the Rice: Soak the sticky rice in different natural colors derived from leaves and flowers for several hours.
  2. Steam: Steam the rice until each color is fully cooked and tender.
  3. Serve: Arrange the rice in an aesthetically pleasing manner, showcasing the vibrant colors.

3. Cá Nướng (Grilled Fish)

Cá Nướng is a traditional grilled fish dish from Ba Bể, typically made with fish caught fresh from Ba Bể Lake. The fish is marinated with local herbs and spices, then grilled over an open flame.


  • Fresh fish (such as carp or tilapia): 1 kg
  • Lemongrass: 3 stalks, finely chopped
  • Garlic: 5 cloves, minced
  • Shallots: 3, minced
  • Fresh dill: A handful, chopped
  • Salt, pepper, and fish sauce to taste
  • Banana leaves (for wrapping)


  1. Prepare the Fish: Clean and gut the fish, making sure to remove any scales.
  2. Marinate: Mix the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, dill, salt, pepper, and fish sauce to create the marinade. Rub this mixture all over the fish, inside and out. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Wrap in Banana Leaves: Wrap the marinated fish in banana leaves to keep it moist and to infuse it with a subtle, earthy flavor.
  4. Grill: Grill the fish over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the fish is cooked through and has a nice charred aroma. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Serve: Serve the grilled fish hot, accompanied by fresh herbs, rice, and dipping sauces.

The Dao People’s Cuisine

1. Thịt Gác Bếp (Smoked Meat)

This dish involves smoking and drying meat over a wood fire, infusing it with a smoky flavor that is both unique and delicious.


  • Beef or pork: 1 kg or more
  • Salt, sugar, and pepper
  • Garlic and ginger
  • Bamboo skewers


  1. Marinate the Meat: Cut the meat into strips and marinate with salt, sugar, pepper, garlic, and ginger.
  2. Skewer the Meat: Thread the marinated meat onto bamboo skewers.
  3. Smoke: Hang the skewers over a wood fire and let the meat smoke and dry for several days.
  4. Serve: The smoked meat can be eaten as is or used in various dishes.

The H’mong People’s Cuisine

1. Thắng Cố (H’mong Hotpot)

Thắng Cố is a traditional hotpot made from various meats and organs, typically horse or buffalo, cooked with special herbs and spices.


  • Mixed meat and organs: 1 kg
  • Special herbs (such as cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon)
  • Salt, pepper, and fish sauce
  • Fresh vegetables


  1. Prepare the Meat: Clean and cut the meat and organs into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Cook the Meat: Boil the meat and organs in a large pot of water, skimming off any impurities.
  3. Add Herbs and Spices: Add the special herbs and spices, along with salt, pepper, and fish sauce.
  4. Simmer: Let the mixture simmer for several hours until the flavors meld together.
  5. Serve: Thắng Cố is typically served hot, with fresh vegetables and dipping sauces on the side.


Exploring the cuisine of Ba Bể provides a window into the rich cultural tapestry of the Tay, Dao, and H’mong people. These traditional dishes, with their unique flavors and preparation methods, offer a delightful culinary journey that reflects the history and lifestyle of the region. By trying these recipes at home, you can bring a piece of Ba Bể’s culture to your kitchen and experience the vibrant flavors that make this area so special.


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