Firms help preserve Hue cuisine

by PV/VTV24 May 2016 Last updated at 13:43 PM

Hue cuisine (Photo illustrated)
Hue cuisine (Photo illustrated) - The former imperial capital of Hue accounts for 1,300 of the country’s 1,700 dishes. However, only some 700 dishes find a regular place on the country’s menus.

Therefore the conservation of Hue’s culinary heritage therefore remains an issue. If Pho beef noodle soup has been successfully promoted as Vietnam’s signature dish, Hue’s cuisine remains largely in the shadows. Some businesses however are keen to change this and promote the former capital’s culinary treats to a wider global audience. 

For many Vietnamese, Hue’s signature dishes are summarised as nem lui lemongrass skewers, bun bo Hue spicy beef noodle soup and various kinds of rice-based savoury ‘cakes’. However, those are just a small part of the 1,300 dishes that can be gleaned from traditional folk and royal cook boks.  Only half of these dishes have been preserved.

While many academics have collected recipes, more practical steps to bring Hue’s culinary history to life are needed. The success of two overseas Vietnamese in Germany and Thailand may offer a new way of bringing the taste of Hue to a wider culinary audience. Firms may play the key role in promoting Hue cuisine to the world.

In Thailand, the restaurant selling lemongrass skewers established by Ho Van Binh is popular in north-east Thailand. The restaurant sells 80 to 90 thousand sticks of nem lui a day. Even Thailand’s royal family have tried them.

"Thai people love this dish because they can see that the dish is very healthy. The dish uses a lot of vegetables, herbs and garlic. They can see the benefits. I’m grateful for my Vietnamese background and this sacred land of Hue, where the dish come from", Ho Van Binh - Restaurant owner in Nong Khai Province, Thailand - said.

Most recipes are handed down from artisans through words of mouth and from memory. They are obviously not the intellectual property of any single person. Take Hue royal cuisine for example. But there are concerns that dedication to preserving the essential character of dishes is required. However, the promotion of the dishes is necessary because popularising recipes is part of the conservation process.

"The introduction of these recipes and dishes is our mission, and also the goal of business in their own way. In the future, we need to find a way to balance preserving the integrity of the dishes with the promotion of them.  The copyright of the dish belongs to artisans who register for copyright", Dr. Phan Thanh Hai - Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre - said.

A concrete step to promote Hue cuisine is the preparation for the establishment of the Vietnamese Cuisine Association. The role of the association is to connect researchers and enterprises to find practical ways to promote Hue cuisine efficiently.

Hue cuisine used to be the formal national cuisine under the Nguyen Dynasty. The values ​​of Hue cuisine has inspired and brought benefits to many businessmen who share the love for the traditional cuisine.

Co-operation between researchers, heritage conservationists and restaurateurs may offer salvation for Hue’s disappearing traditional cuisine.

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