Xôi Chả Lụa Sticky Rice With Sausage – 144 of 365

Xôi Chả Lụa

Long walks through both Hanoi and Saigon bring me up close and personal with Vietnam’s two largest cities.  The freedom afforded by my own two feet in wandering off the beaten path is beyond description.  More so in Hanoi my presence seems to be a curious novelty to more than a few locals away from the usual tourist and expat haunts.  It’s actually neat in a way to be the cause of so much finger pointing and stares.

While winding my way down Hanoi’s narrow Yen Phu Street on the daily food hunt, I seemed to have caused quite the stir with people looking on as I moved on by.   People over here don’t seem to just take these random walks I so enjoy, and a westerner in this neighborhood undertaking such a curious activity sure does stick out.

Xôi Chả Lụa Shop

The food trail led me to father and son selling some sort of sausage and sticky rice concoction out of a narrow shop house.  As I waited for my takeaway order to be boxed up in its tiny styrofoam container, I attracted a small crowd of locals staring right at me.  I guess it’s once again Stare At The American Day here in these parts.   My ringing Iphone signaled then to become ever more mesmerized and one woman even mimicked me talking on the phone while laughing hysterically and rocking back and forth.  Yes, western people do know how to use a phone believe it or not.  Actually I think we may have invented it once upon a time.

Sticky rice and pork with a side of laughter…Welcome to my world.  And speaking of sticky rice, this is unlike your average garden variety Chinese takeaway stuff.  Yes, I know that particular rice clumps together in the shape of the carton from which it was expelled, but this is a “sticky” in a whole new sense.

Let’s put our science hats on just for a second to understand how sticky rice is also known as glutinous rice though it contains no glutens.  I promise this will be short so bear with me.  A starchy compound called amylopectin lends the rice’s waxy sheen, hence the name sticky.  OK, school’s over.  Now let’s get back to what we are here for…eating.

I hauled a tiny sample of the hot dog/soy sauce tasting sausage to my airplane later that day to learn its proper name, and my cabin crew identified this 13,000VND (60 cent) breakfast as xôi chả lụa.  Just know this spongy sausage made of pork paste tastes much better than it looks.  That just goes to show we shoudn’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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