Cao Lau is a very special noodle dish from Quang Nam, Vietnam. It’s loved by people in the beautiful city of Hoi An. This tasty dish has unique slightly brown noodles that are carefully made. It’s served with delicious ingredients like tender pork, fresh veggies, and a tasty broth that makes it even better.
According to history, Cao Lau first appeared in the 17th century when Hoi An was a busy port city. Chinese and Japanese traders often visited and brought their own food traditions. When these different flavors mixed together, Cao Lau was created, combining the best of Chinese and Japanese cooking.
As time went on, people made small changes to Cao Lau to suit the tastes of the Vietnamese people. They added local techniques and ingredients, making it a special dish loved in the central part of Vietnam.
The name “Cao Lau” means “high storey” in Vietnamese. It represents a dish known for its amazing quality and flavors. It’s also meant to be enjoyed from a high place, like a balcony or upper floor. This way, when people eat Cao Lau, they can also enjoy the beautiful views of Hoi An’s streets and alleys from above, making the whole experience even more memorable.
How Cao Lau noodles are made
The most distinctive feature of Cao Lau, deeply rooted in Quang Nam’s culinary traditions, is the meticulously prepared noodles. The local people select fragrant rice and soak it in water from an ancient well in Hoi An called Bá Lễ, resulting in a crispy and chewy texture.
Afterward, the rice is retrieved, ground into a dry powder, kneaded into a smooth mass, rolled into 3-4mm thick sheets, steamed, and cut into two different shapes (noodles and squares).
The pork in Cao Lau is really tasty! It’s chosen carefully, marinated, and cooked just right. When you take a bite, you’ll love how tender and flavorful it is. The people who make Cao Lau put a lot of effort into preparing the pork to make it extra delicious.
The secret behind the unforgettable taste of Cao Lau lies in its fragrant broth. Made by simmering pork bones and various aromatic spices, this broth infuses the dish with a deep, savory essence. Its complex flavors are the result of careful time and patience, creating a foundation that brings all the ingredients together in perfect harmony.
Fresh Herbs and Vegetables
Cao Lau is made even better with fresh herbs and vegetables! They add a nice crunch and make each bite really fresh. You’ll find crispy bean sprouts, tasty mint leaves, and fragrant lettuce all coming together perfectly. They balance out the savory flavors and make Cao Lau even more enjoyable.
Wonton croutons are a fun addition to the classic Cao Lau dish. These crunchy bites bring extra flavor and texture to every spoonful. They’re made from thin wonton wrappers that are fried until they turn golden and crispy.
When you take a bite, the crunchy croutons perfectly complement the soft noodles and tasty toppings of Cao Lau. Each mouthful becomes even more enjoyable with the added contrast and playful touch of the wonton croutons. It’s a delicious twist that adds a delightful surprise to this beloved dish.
How to eat Cao Lau Hoi An
Start by placing a layer of bean sprouts at the bottom of the bowl, then add the Cao Lau noodles and thinly sliced pork on top. Pour the savory broth evenly to soak up all the flavors. Add crispy fried garlic, and enjoy it with lime, Hoi An chili sauce, aromatic herbs, and green chili for a complete and satisfying taste experience.
Get ready: Make sure you have a pair of chopsticks and a spoon handy. Cao Lau is typically served in a bowl, so you’ll need these utensils to enjoy it fully.
Mix it up: Take your chopsticks and gently stir the ingredients in the bowl. This helps distribute the flavors and ensures each bite is a perfect combination of noodles, meat, vegetables, and broth.
Take a bite: Using your chopsticks, pick up a small portion of noodles along with some pork, and vegetables. Bring it to your mouth and enjoy the medley of flavors. Don’t be afraid to slurp the noodles—it’s a sign that you’re truly relishing the dish!
Sip the broth: In between bites, use the spoon to sip the flavorful broth. The broth complements the other ingredients and adds an extra depth of taste to each mouthful.
Unique dining experience in Hoi An
Cao Lau goes beyond its incredible taste to provide an unforgettable dining experience in the enchanting city of Hoi An. When you enjoy in this mouthwatering dish, you have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the captivating atmosphere of the city’s vibrant streets and charming alleys.
Imagine sitting in a warm and cozy restaurant, with beautiful lanterns lighting up the ancient town around you. The air is filled with mouthwatering smells from nearby street food stalls, tempting your taste buds. You can hear the cheerful voices of locals and visitors, creating a lively and joyful atmosphere that adds to the excitement of your food adventure.
Cao Lau Hoi An is undoubtedly a culinary gem that encapsulates the rich history and cultural diversity of the region. Its intricate preparation, flavorful ingredients, and unique dining experience make it a must-try dish when visiting Hoi An.
By indulging in Cao Lau, you are not only experiencing a delightful culinary journey but also connecting with the cultural heritage and traditions of this enchanting city. So, next time you find yourself in Hoi An, make sure to seek out Cao Lau for an authentic and unforgettable gastronomic adventure.