Bánh Tráng Trộn Rice Paper Mix – 276 of 365

Bánh Tráng Trộn

Months ago I ate a random portion of bánh tráng trộn given to me by a group of girls I had just met.  It was spicy, delicious and hit the spot.  And when I say spicy, I mean it burned the hell out of my mouth and just eviscerated my sense of taste.  Now that’s some good eating.  Miraculously all that heat somehow did not obliterate my stomach.

Fast forward and a very random bánh tráng trộn once again crossed my path.  I had hoped to snap a picture of the downtown skyline against the sunset from the bridge over the Saigon River near my apartment.  Everything was going so well until a sudden deluge began its pesky approach.  I ducked for cover just in under an overpass along with dozens of my closest friends atop motorbikes just as the rain gods unleashed their fury.  Naturally wherever there are people, some enterprising merchant is going to hustle a buck out of the crowd and like clockwork a woman pushed her bicycle/vending machine into the mix.

Bánh Tráng Trộn Lady

And yes, this one is different enough that I will include it as a worthy stop along this food journey.  Thin strips of rice paper form the canvas upon which ingredients are fished one by one from plastic containers.  No matter where I see this common street food, the set up seems to always be the same.  And serving it in a plastic bag is the only way to do it.

Unlike my first round of bánh tráng trộn, this one contained slivers of shredded unripe mango and dried bits of beef.  I’d have to say this beef is like a sweet-spicy jerky but soft like a sausage.  It’s good!  The sour mango blends so well with the jerky and generous dollop of hot chili paste.  Peanuts, fish mint, fried onions, soy, and what I detected to be lime juice round out this concoction.  Two tiny hard boiled quail eggs were the only part I gave a pass.

The way so many flavors hit the tongue at once is pure bliss.  Also, the element of danger from buying food from the back of a bike adds some suspense.  Will I get sick?  Will I be ok?  I am happy to report all ended well as usual.  This goes to show that sometimes the best meals are the ones that come along so unplanned and unexpectedly like eating with chopsticks out of a plastic bag under a bridge.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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