I’ve had a lot of delicious food on this trip, but one of the highlights has been a local Hanoi creation called cha ca, which requires a fair amount of table space to accommodate its various components.
The main and most important bit is crispy pieces of mild white fish, fried with green onions, challots, yellow onions, parsley and various other herbs – served on a sizzling hot plate.
A second tray contains an array of fruits and herbs, including thin-sliced, very lightly-salted green melon and banana (the latter with the thinnest bit of peel on the edges), thin-sliced pineapple, some type of parsley, several types of basil and other leafy herbs I didn’t recognise.
Another component is a bowl of steaming rice vermicelli, and the final piece is a dozen or so rectangular sheets of the thinnest rice paper.
To eat the dish, you take a sheet or two of the rice paper, add a small amount of each of the above ingredients, roll everything into a basic spring roll and dip it into the accompanying sauce.
Just describing it again makes me salivate.