A yellow piece of rice crust, taken from the bottom of the pot, so crunchy, fragrant and steaming hot would strongly attract you for its appetizing taste.
In the old days, when I was still very young and electric cook was not very popular, many children like me used to be assigned to keep eyes on the fire that cooked the pot of rice.
Usually, we intended to “forget” our task so that the fire would strong enough to make the rice crust and we would have appetizing piece of rice crust to eat with sesame and salt or shrimp paste.
Nowadays, people make rice crust in a new different way. It is desiccated and used with meat floss. From rustic food, rice crust has now become a specialty; it decently appears in supermarket, in luxurious restaurant and even in some large-scale food festivals.
The delicious taste of rice crust is mainly because of the crunchy rice and the clap clap sound that is pleasant to hear whenever we have a bite.
There are also some new various ways to enjoy the rice crust. In some Chinese noodle restaurant, people use rice crust instead of crispy fried noodles. They lay rice crust on the plate, pour the seafood sauce over and put some mustard green on it. Yet, in some Vietnamese restaurant, rice crust is used with chicken salad, Ninh Binh goat meat or bronze feather back (a kind of fish) and so on. As a whole, we can easily eat rice crust in many different ways.
In Saigon, there is a familiar place for those who are addicted to this snack, that is just a shift on the sidewalk, right at the corner of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Le Thanh Ton street. The rice crust sole here is still the desiccated crunchy rice crust, but it has a certain spongy degree; and when you eat, you will not feel like it has grit.
The rice crust here also using with meat floss, but it is more appetizing since it has the fresh yellow of fried tiny shrimp, the green of the greasy onion cooked with fat and a little hot of the red chili.
Although these days the way to make the dish is not like in the past but it is still very simple. Just using rice or sticky rice, cook and then press it so that it is firmly stick together. The next step is drying the rice in about one and a half day. After that, frying it and then adding shrimp, onion cooked with fat and chili. We can also put meat floss right on the surface of the rice crust.
Although this is a common dish, the price is not very low. However, with a particular process, and mixture of taste: salty, sweet and greasy, all together have made the rice crust become such an appetizing dish, pleasant to the eye. Rice crust is worthy to be a typical dish of Saigon cuisine.