Wild bee pupae salad from U Minh District is among the best dishes of southern Cà Mau Province, said resident Huỳnh Văn Lý, 76.
Lý said U Minh forest is well-known nationwide for its wild honey and bee pupae which can be cooked in special dishes such as porridge or fried with chives, but the most popular is the bee pupae salad.
Ingredients to cook the dish include honeybee pupae, young banana trees or coconut, roasted peanuts, coconut milk, lemongrass, soybean paste, herbs and spice as well as sugar, pepper, salt and chilli.
To make the dish, you cut the young banana tree or coconut into thin pieces then mix it with salt, sugar, vinegar, garlic and minced lemongrass while grinding the peanuts and mixing them with coconut milk and broth mix as a dipping sauce.
Lý said the bee pupae should be washed and dried. Two tablespoons of cooking oil is put into a pan over a medium heat with minced garlic, and fried until it becomes yellow. The cleaned bee pupae is put in the pan and stirred for five minutes before spices are added.
The bee pupae’s buttery and fragrant taste should be kept while it is mixed with the above-mentioned ingredients, he said.
The dish is best eaten with coriander and basil, Lý said.
He said the tastiest salad is made of young bee pupae but they are very difficult to collect due to the risk of stings.
He said as an experienced collector, one day he had travelled deep into the forest, trying to find the bee’s nest but had to wait until night fell. He used a torch to burn the nest so the bees left, then he could collect the pupae.
“I sometimes was stung badly by the bees,” Lý said, adding that he was happy because he had collected the pupae to make a special dish.
The U Minh forest bees eat natural cajuput and other wildflowers, so their pupae have a buttery taste with an aromatic flavour compared to those in other forests, said Lý.
In addition, the pupae can be soaked in wine, he said.
Phạm Thị Thủy in Hà Nội’s Tây Hồ District told Việt Nam News that before the COVID-19 pandemic, her family took a tour to the Cà Mau Cape. “During our tour to U Minh District, we had a chance to eat many quality dishes, but the dish we were most interested in was the bee pupae salad, which had special characteristics of the wild forest as well as its natural flavour.”
“The dish is more enjoyable when topped with ground roasted peanuts, chilli and pepper. We will never forget this speciality.”
This year, her family plans to return to U Minh District to tour the natural landscape and also enjoy the bee pupae salad.
The popular dish is the pride of local people. It helps to put Cà Mau’s U Minh District on the cuisine map as one of the must-try dishes in Việt Nam, said an official from the provincial Sports and Tourism Department, Hoàng Huân, adding that all visitors, travellers and guests to the locality often order or try the dish. — VNS