Dog meat special in Hanoi
One of the first questions Vietnamese people, especially men, ask a foreigner is ‘Can you eat dog meat?’
A direct translation from Vietnamese, the question is not so much asking whether the person ‘likes’ dog meat as whether they can handle it. After all, the consumption of dog meat is not just about how apparently ‘delicious’ it is, as the fact people see it as a ‘manly’ food, imparting virility to the consumer. In other words, if you can’t eat dog meat, you’re not a man.
At certain times of the lunar month, the consumption of dog meat is considered lucky, which may explain why women sometimes eat it. And of course, it could after all be true that to some people dog meat is actually ‘ngon’.
Dog meat is consumed throughout Vietnam to varying degrees of acceptability, though more predominantly in the north. There are multiple dishes featuring dog meat, and they often include the head, feet and internal organs. On Nhat Tan Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi, many restaurants serve dog meat, often imitating each other. Dog meat restaurants can be found throughout the country. Groups of customers, usually male, seated on mats, will spend their evenings sharing plates of dog meat and drinking alcohol. Dog meat is supposed to raise the libido and is sometimes considered unsuitable for women; in other words, eating dog meat can serve as a male bonding exercise. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for women to eat dog meat. The consumption of dog meat can be part of a ritual usually occurring toward the end of the lunar month for reasons of astrology and luck. Restaurants which mainly exist to serve dog meat may only open for the last half of the lunar month.
Types of dishes
In Vietnamese cuisine there are many ways to cook dog meat. Typically a chef will choose one of seven ways to cook dog, collectively known as “Cay To bay mon”.
Thit cho hap – steamed dog meat
Rua man – steamed dog in shrimp paste, rice flour and lemon grass
Doi cho – dog sausage
Gieng Me Mam Tom – Steamed dog in shrimp paste, ginger, spices and rice vinegar
Thit cho nuong – grilled dog meat
Canh Xao Mang Cho – Bamboo shoots and dog bone marrow
Cho Xao Sa Ot – Fried dog in lemon grass and chili
Source: Alex Sheal – vietnaminfocus.com