Cao Bang Province

Cao Bằng Province has over nine ethnic groups

The Ethnic Group of Cao Bằng Province

Nearly 25 million people in Việt Nam live in and around forest areas, and most of them are from the 53 ethnic minorities.

Over nine ethnic groups in Cao Bằng Province have resided in these valleys for millennia. The Tày, Nùng, Dao, and H’mong are among the most well-known, and each has its own unique crafts and way of life.

The predominant ethnicity in the area is Tày and H’mong. They usually live in distinct settlements, which are generally at different altitudes. Tày people reside at lower elevations, Dao people at moderate altitudes, and H’mong people at high altitudes. Intermarrying is uncommon, despite the fact that they trade frequently.

Local residents and even those living far away come to the market to buy and sell a wide variety of goods, commodities and even live animals, exchange news and even make friends. In the market, women from various ethnic minorities sell sticky rice with various contents wrapped in banana leaves. Sticky rice varieties native to the area grow well in the climate and are a cherished delicacy for many people when harvested. Additionally, mountain herb medicines used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as Chè Đông, seeds of the vernicia fordii, gynostemma pentaphyllum, and Lygodium flexuosum fern can be bought in local markets, although the majority of the production is transported across the border to China. The women from various ethnic tribes possess valuable indigenous knowledge of the medicinal plants that can be found in the forest to cure ailments from headaches to fever to pregnancy pains.

In Việt Nam, most people use traditional medicine for healing, and 90 per cent of active ingredients come from forests. Nearly 4,000 species of plants in Việt Nam can be used for medicine, like Ardisia silvestris (lá khôi tía) which eases stomach ache and Polyscias fruticosa (dinh lang) which supports digestion. Sadly, only five per cent of these plants are currently collected and commercialized. With domestic revenues estimated at $1.5 billion USD, Việt Nam still imports $1.7 billion USD annually of medicinal plants despite its biological and natural potential to be fully self-sufficient and a global export leader.

Gà bản đến nướng (Charcoal grilled black chicken), is a well-known speciality in a traditional ethnic Việtnamese meal originating from Sapa’s H’mong people. This chicken breed known as Silkie chicken has black skin, flesh, and bones (show link to the valuable article “Gà Ác Tiềm Thuốc Bắc”). To marinade the black chicken, a mixture is made from galangal, forest honey, kaffir lime leaves, sesame seeds, chilli powder, fish sauce, lemongrass, shallots, salt, and black pepper. The fowl is then chargrilled until done, then served on a dish with watercress and chilli peppers on top. Steamed jasmine rice is the best accompaniment to the dish.

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Bulk Order (min $250) via Catersmith. Order must be placed at least 3 days in advance.