Sapa is blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, terraced fields winding along mountains and cool weather all year round. Sapa tourism in addition to having a variety of grilled dishes also has a unique culinary specialty, “Thang co”. However, not everyone can eat this dish because “Thang Co” is originally made of everything from a horse, even “not very clean” colon.
Thang Co is a traditional food of the H’mong people, originating from the Ha Giang mountainous, northeast area and gradually popular with all ethnic minorities in the mountains in the north. Hanoians are proud of pho, the Saigon people are proud of broken rice, the people of Northwest Vietnam are proud of their “Thang Co”.
Thang Co is usually cooked from many kinds of meat such as buffalos, cows, pigs, but the best one is horse Thang Co. Even though cooking Thang Co is extremely simple, however, to cook a delicious dish, it’s depended on the secret recipe.
The horse after being slaughtered and cleaned, all the meat and organs like legs tendon, heart, liver, foot bone are sliced into about two knuckles pieces. Then marinate with traditional spices such as salt, cardamom, grilled terracotta, small canopy, wait for meat to spice and then pour all into a pan to begin to stir.
Waiting for a few minutes until the meat is ripe, the water is poured into the pan and then boiling for several hours. The spices are mixed together to create a characteristic aroma. By the mountain breeze, the aroma of the Thang Co dish spread from the beginning of the market to the end of the market to please anyone who went to the market that day.
Nothing is better than squatting on the ground to eat Thang Co, putting food on the wooden table and eat with a wooden spoon. Next to the bowl of Thang Co is always a bowl of salt with fresh green pepper. Thang Co has a very strange smell, very specific. For the first new look, the dish is a little scared because in the pan is all kind of horse meat but when eaten it you will love it. Stir-fried meat with little salt chili and a cup of wine is bolder. Especially, while eating, Thang Co is still cooked, it remains hot of the food, making it become the best specialty of this land.
Mong men often ask you to eat Thang Co and drink corn wine, women and children often bring the corn mold, steamed corn powder puree, to eat. Thang Co can be eaten along with the mold, grilled corn tortillas and do not ignore the aromatic corn wine. In the cold air of Sapa, diners sit in front of the Thang Co hot pot and enjoy the national flavor, while enjoying the spicy of the highland wine to love this romantic mountainous Northwest forests more.
On the table, there are endless topics to talk to each other but the most concentrated is still about the fields, buffalo, cattle business. Every time, the villagers gather together to eat Thang Co and share their story, solidarity is strengthened than ever. What a warm-hearted scene!
The Thang Co pots at the highland markets are often large enough for a few dozen people to eat. The bowl is pulled out to serve diners from the large pan of lean meat, grease and also the organ. Horses are processed clean, fragrant, crispy and crunchy, with spicy smell of dipping vegetables dip with a special sauce made from Muong Khuong chili. The original Thang Co of the local people in the market is often difficult to eat, while in the restaurant, the Thang Co has been modified to suit the taste of the Kinh people.
Coming to the Northwest market on a cold windy day, tourists will not be able to ignore the very unique feeling that nowhere else has, the characterized ethnicity feeling. Enjoying the aromatic Thang Co dish is an exciting experience but with a cup of corn, wine would be far more extraordinary. Mong people often say that you will never truly eat Thang Co if you miss drinking Ban Pho corn wine. When the market is over, people still mingled with the dish delicious taste and the warm-hearted people.