Gallery: Snapshots from Vietnam: Wet Market Tour in Hanoi

  • Making Crab Paste

    This lady is scraping out crab guts and saving the shells and meat to grind into a paste, which is used to season soups and many dishes.

    Crab Pile

    Drive-up seafood

    Drive-up seafood

    Scooters zip through the market between pedestrian shoppers.

    Baby Shrimp

    Still warm and ready to eat raw. That finger should give you some scale as to how baby-sized they are, still with their beady black eyes.

    Live crabs tied up

    Bloody

    Despite all of the seafood stalls at the market—selling both fresh fish still squirming and bloody fish very much dead—there was practically no stinky fish odor. Much of the seafood is sourced daily from up north in Halong Bay.

    Pork paste

    That bubblegum pink-colored paste is soft and spreadable pork, ready to slather on a baguette for banh mi.

    Silk Worms

    This reminded me of the The Lion King scene during Hakuna Matata when Timon and Pumba are eating grubby bugs. "Tastes like chicken...Slimy yet satisfying!" According to our market guide Tracey, you want to sauté the worms with some lime leaf and salt to enjoy the crunchy-shelled, squishy snack with bia (the very light, water-like Vietnamese beer). A high-protein bar snack.

    Boiled chicken

    Offal

    Various animal parts: feet, liver, gelatinous blood discs. The offal usually sells out by noon.

    Market butchers

    Pigs' Ears

    Now those are some hairy ears.

    Fresh produce

    Banana Bike

    It is not uncommon in Vietnam to see a bunch of bananas on the back of a scooter. (Or a mattress, or really anything that can somehow be affixed to the back of a scooter, often defying laws of gravity.)

    Coconut Ladies

    Here they are shaving fresh coconut. Coconut of course makes a cameo in many Vietnamese dishes, both savory and sweet.

    Eat some jackfruit!

    Gac

    What is this wacky brain-resembling fruit? Gac, or "baby jackfruit," is full of red fleshy pulp and seeds that is used to dye sticky rice. The color red symbolizes good luck and prosperity in Vietnam, so eating the red sticky rice is especially popular during Tet and other celebratory occasions.

    Fresh Herbs

    Mint, cilantro, spring onions and other fragrant green herbs find their way into many Vietnamese dishes.

    Banh Tet

    These banana leaf-wrapped parcels are most popular during the lunar new year celebration of Tet, which is coming up very soon in Vietnam (starts on Sunday, February 10)! The glutinous rice bundle is tightly packed with fatty pork and mung beans.

    Raw Animal Hearts

    Frying Banh Ran

    This lady was squatting near the market entrance, frying the sweet glutinous balls known as banh ran. Speckled with sesame seeds on the outside, they're filled with a sweet mung bean paste. This is a must-eat snack at the market.

    Mmm, Banh Ran

    Golden-fried, crisp, chewy, and still piping hot from the fryer!

    Betel Leaf

    Chew this leaf and you may feel some narcotic effects. The betel plant, part of the pepper family, has been cultivated in southeast Asia for thousands of years. Habitual chewing stains the teeth, but in Vietnamese cooking, you'll find the leaves wrapped around beef to impart herbaceous peppery aromas.

    Welcome to Cho Cham Long Market

    Let's go in, shall we?

    Many Grains of Rice

    Fresh Rice Noodles

    The Egg Lady

    Duck eggs, quail eggs, bantam eggs...

    And don't forget the fetal duck eggs

    Or maybe you should forget them? "On hot days, these eggs have been known to hatch right in the middle of the market," said our market guide Tracey of the fetal duck eggs in the netted basket. As mentioned before, there's a fertilized duck embryo inside these eggs, which have matured for about 17 days. Buy them at the market, hard-boil them at home, then tap the shells and eat the itty bitty creature's beak and webbed feet parts inside, if this is your thing.

    Tilapia

    Known as Vietnam's little fish miracle, tilapia has become a major export commodity especially over the last few years.