Nem Nướng Nha Trang
When it comes to Nha Trang cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is nem nướng from Ninh Hòa or Nha Trang in the central and coastal parts of Việt Nam. Minced pork is referred to as “nem” in Vietnamese, whereas grilled is referred to as “nướng.” It also refers to a variety of dishes, all of which involve minced pork but are completely distinct from one another. For example, nem rán is also known as chả giò (fried spring roll), nem chua is fermented pork meat- most versions of nem chua can be distinguished by their name, which is usually named after the area it originated from, such as nem Thanh Hóa, nem Đông Ba in the ancient royal capital of Huế and nem Ninh Hòa in Khánh Hòa Province, nem Yên Mạc in Ninh Bình Province, etc or nem bì lợn (shredded pork and pork skin rice paper rolls).
To add to the confusion, there are at least 70 different types of nem, which vary depending on the region. As a result, while ordering nem in Việt Nam, it’s critical to be quite exact.
When making nem nướng Nha Trang, the freshly slaughtered pig is finely minced with pork fat and boldly seasoned with garlic, sugar, sea salt, baking powder, fish sauce, and white pepper before being pounded into a paste and wrapped in “lá chùm ruột” (gooseberry leaves) and kept for a few days to ferment and “age.” The fermented pork paste is further wrapped around a bamboo stick and slowly grill on a charcoal burner before being served. The aroma release is seductive and unforgettable, and the finished product has a distinct sour flavor and bouncy texture.
Grilled fermented pork skewers, fried rice paper rolls (bánh tráng chiên giòn), raw herbs, bitter greens, shredded green mangoes, pickled carrots, daikon & onions, fresh cucumbers, thinly sliced sour star-fruits, and green bananas are all included in a full dish of nem nướng Nha Trang. Each item is folded into rolls and dipped in sauces using thin rice paper. This dish’s success or failure is determined by the sauce. There are various sauces, but the peanut sauce is always presented and usually created using sticky rice, pork liver, peanut butter, garlic, fish sauce, and hoisin sauce. A little chopped minced bird’s eye chili and toasted crusted peanut will be added when the diner is ready to eat. The whole experience is heavenly and unforgettable.
Normally served as an appetizer or snack, nem nướng can also be served as a main course dish on top of rice noodles, such bún thịt nướng (cold rice vermicelli noodle topped with charcoal-grilled pork patties and marinated belly, fresh herbs and lettuce), or on rice, such as cơm tấm (Sài Gòn-style broken rice). Nem nướng is a common filler in gỏi cuốn (pork & shrimp, fresh vegetables and herbs wrapped in transparent Vietnamese bánh tráng).