Can Tho specialties

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Sweet and fragrant Thuan Hung rice papers
Date: 20/06/2019

About 40km from Can Tho city center, Thot Not district is famous for its 200-year-old village of rice paper named Thuan Hung. Coming here, you can not only taste the traditional dishes, but also make some of them yourselves and learn from many craftsmen faithful to the profession of making rice papers.
The production of rice papers in Thuan Hung runs all year round. Photo: Ai Lam

According to the elderly, this profession has existed for a very long time. At first, the rice papers were made for Tet holiday, for family consumption and for treating guests. Then, people came to buy rice papers and establishments were opened to fulfill orders. Currently, in Thuan Hung, there are still 52 households practicing this profession, especially in the hamlets of Tan Phu and Tan Thanh.

Thuan Hung rice papers are divided into 4 types: savory type, plain type, spring rolls wrappers and coconut milk type. The salted type can be kept longer than the plain one. The latter is crispier and is used to wrap the spring rolls. The spring rolls wrappers are smaller. The last one is made of coconut milk and sesame. Each type also has several sizes, the smallest with a diameter of 30 cm, the largest with a diameter of 40 cm. Thuan Hung rice papers are known for their smoothness, their sweet scent of rice, the good smell of the sun, the taste of coconut and sesame. To make such delicious rice papers, craftsmen here have their own secrets.

Mrs. Ha Thi Sau is drying rice papers under the sun. Photo: Ai Lam

The family of Mrs. Ha Thi Sau, who has been working in this profession for more than 30 years, lives in a house on the banks of the Thom Rom River. All members of three generations master every step of making rice papers such as prepare dough, pour and spread the dough, dry in the sun, stack and son on. Mrs. Sau says she must get up at 3 o'clock and work until 10 o'clock in the evening because the manufacture of rice papers goes through 10 steps. If it's a bad weather, the work is more painful. "Still, I never give up on the job," she says. She wants to continue working to feed the family and to introduce this rural specialty to everyone. It is for this reason that she participates annually in the Traditional Cakes Festival with her hearth of heat for the demonstration of making rice papers. The more people know about Thuan Hung’s rice papers, the happier Mrs. Sau is.

Not far from Mrs. Sau’s house, the family of Mr. Phan Van Giai has also been doing this job for a long time. “It's very hard, this job. Still, I cannot give it up. I always feel impatient when I see the fire in my neighbors' hearths,” he says. According to him, Thuan Hung rice papers are appreciated thanks to the tips of preparation of the dough which is completely made from rice flour. The rice harvested at Thot Not District is left for 4-6 months before making the dish. The recently harvested rice cannot be used because the dough will break more easily during cooking and the roasted patties will not be crisp on the whole surface. With rice left too long, the pancakes will lose their sweet taste. After dipping well-selected rice into the water, grind it, remove acidic water and then add salt to make rice papers more savory and last longer. Cooking must be at very low heat. The display of the dough must be fast so that the rice papers are well round, thin and do not break. Each cake is made and spread on the bamboo racks in 10 seconds on average. Mr. Trinh Van Tha, owner of an establishment for 15 years, adds: “We must also take the chance to work in the sun so that the rice papers can be smooth and beautiful. Only then we can feel relieved.” During the sunny days, we can see, everywhere in Thuan Hung, the regular rows of racks of rice papers.

Thanks to their love for the trade, these craftsmen make Thuan Hung an attractive destination for tourists who want to learn about this profession and try this so-called rice paper.

Source: Can Tho Newspaper - Translated by Hoang Dat

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