Pha Lau is a Chinese-originated dish but now favorite street food in the South, especially in Ho Chi Minh city. The dish is made from beef organ including beef tripe, intestine, heart, thymus, kidney, stomach and lungs. These organs are stewed in coconut water with curry powder, five spices and other additive for many hours until tender. The whole time-consuming process delivers a scented dish with eye-catching dark orange making it look somehow a sibling of Indian curry but no, the taste is totally different.
Pha Lau is a perfect blend of flavorful broth and chewy, tender, crunchy organ meats. The dish is usually served with plain bread but either rice or noodles is also not a bad idea. To add the flavor, the dish will be also served with herbs and dipping fish sauce. It really takes time to cook Pha Lau from choosing organs, washing them with wine, lime juice and salt to deodorize to hours of stewing even though it is only rated as a kind of junk food.
Due to the tough organs (even thought they were stewed for hours), Pha Lau fits youngsters better than the old. Most of Pha Lau selling spots are vendors or air-opened so if you wish to try the true flavor, find a street spot. Sitting on street watching people rushing on the road enjoying Pha Lau would be an unforgettable memory in your trip to Vietnam.
Pha Lau is becoming more and more popular in foody community, especially Saigon and Hanoi where street food could be find anywhere. It’s a big loss if you miss this exotic street food on your trip to Vietnam. Don’t hesitate to try Pha Lau even you have never tasted organ before, you will love it at very first bite.