Growing up in California we we’re lucky enough to experience many versions of the greatest hits of Vietnamese cuisine, and even thought we had a decent handle on what we might eat once we arrived to Vietnam. Of course our expectations were shattered and exceeded as we tried truer and countless Vietnamese dishes we had never seen before. In Ho Chi Minh City we found such a dish, and it managed to combine so many of our favorite things into one delectable dish known as bot chien.
We came across a vague description of the dish on a random webpage listing all the street foods available in HCMC. Luckily for us, this less common street food was being sold at a stall that happened to be about 50 meters from our Airbnb, and a lovely pair of aunties were able to satisfy our new craving. We pointed at another patron’s dish, got a smile and nod, and grabbed some plastic seats in the alley.
The main component of the dish is made of layered rice cakes which are seared off to add some crispness, then mixed among a thin batter of egg yolk which adds some more body. A mixture of garlic, scallion greens, shallots, and chiles are quicklysautéed dropped on top. A few minutes later we were treated with a piping hot plate of bot chien served with some pickled daikon and a spicy soy sauce. We barely waited for the dish to cool off and savored every contrasting, flavorful bite. We waved over to grab the women’s attention, pointed again, and happily ordered another plate. ◆