The mountainous area stretches along the typical climate of four distinct seasons of the Northwest. This feature makes the people here create a very unique cuisine of the countryside as well as contributing to the beauty of Vietnamese cuisine with the delicious thit gac bep.
Thit gac bep – This phrase is no stranger to anyone but where did the origin of this dish? To eat, of course! If anyone has ever lived with Thai compatriots, participate in hunting and gathering activities, they would fully understand the origin of this meat! Thai compatriots were very good at hunting, fishing and gathering food in the forest. Meat, fruit were perishable food, therefore, they had a problem with the fresh food. People were worried about how to keep food for a long time after dozen days of hunting. They quickly think about drying food, preserved and brought to eat gradually.
I have had many trips to catch river fish, go to the forest with my brothers. The trip usually lasts a few days, fish or other food will be eaten a little before, the rest are usually dried, bring back to the village. Thit gac bep or dried meat has its own starting point, just reluctantly, is the way to preserve food to eat gradually, just like the people in the plain, they have fish stock, which is similar to dried meat in Northwest.
The ingredients that make up the dried meat are from the heel muscle of buffaloes, cows, pigs in the mountains of the Northwest. When processing, people will strip the meat and cut into pieces, then use charcoal from the rocks to make fire. This creates a very specific flavor for the dish.
Especially with the thit gac bep through the skillful hands of the Thai, it always keeps its own flavor. Each piece of meat is still fuming the smell of smoke is almost the same but not uncomfortable.
For this dish, the processing techniques are traditional, but the product is quite homogeneous. First, the chef marinates meat with other spices such as chili, ginger, especially “mac khen” – a kind of forest pepper of the ethnic minorities in the Northwest. These spices will make the meat smell good after being smoked so it is given in a relatively large amount, even found on each bar of meat. After the meat has been marinated for a certain time, they bring it to dry in the kitchen. The most fascinating thing about the thit gac bep is that they are completely natural and do not use any preservatives, but they can be stored for about a month.
The strange taste which is bold, sweet, spicy on each piece of meat has made many people fall in love with this dish. For whom have enjoyed will not forget tasty food. For whom have not eaten thit gac bep, they always want to enjoy this dish once. With the meticulous cooking process, from the available raw materials that are pork, beef, and buffalo meat, people will pick up meat and cut fresh meat pieces and filter out fat. Once you have chosen the meat then cut into small pieces with the size just enough to be oblique. Then marinate with spices such as ginger, salt, garlic, chili and especially the spicy flavor of the mountains, mac khen, making the meat more delicious.
The next step is to soak and spice until the spices are absorbed into the meat. And the last step is to skew the sliced beams from the bamboo trees. After that, they put the skewer of meat on the kitchen stove to the firewood flame burned with forest firewood and dried until the meat is dry. With traditional recipes, from the previous generations, the food has become a unique feature in the upland culinary culture that not all ethnic groups have. Despite the rudimentary tools, no modern machinery but the people here can still keep the taste of thit gac bep for a long time. Whether you have visited Northwest or not, I think you should enjoy thit gac bep once to feel the flavor of the mountain in the dish.