While living in Vietnam, I occasionally came across some mysterious dishes which I would call “food in disguise”. Chả Huế would be definitely one of them. As the name suggests, it comes from Hue and it’s mostly popular in Central and South Vietnam. Chả Huế is a good example of a dish that pretends to be something that it is not. When casually resting on a table it looks more like a vegetable than a meaty snack.
Yes, Chả Huế is “a sausage in disguise”!
A small piece of meat carefully wrapped in a banana leaf. Don’t eat the banana leaf though, it’s not edible unless you got a digestive system of an herbivore 😉 Once I learned what Chả Huế was, and how easy it was to get, I became a big fan of this humble but popular side dish of Vietnamese. It goes well with Bún Bò Huế or some other noodles soups. I personally also enjoy Chả Huế as a filling to my Banh Mi, even though it’s not a very popular combo among my Vietnamese friends.
From my experience, Chả Huế—and its bigger sibbling “Chả lụa”—are probably the most common types of sausage to be found in Vietnamese cuisine. The both are made of lean pork, potato starch, garlic, ground black pepper and nước mắm (fish sauce). The meaty mixture is tightly wrapped in banana leaves into a cylindrical shape and boiled in water for long enough to kill the germs and bacteria, and also to give the snack a very distinct look and taste.
The usual cost of Chả Huế should be somewhere around 4000-6000 VND per sausage (wrap) when bought from street sellers or small shops around Vietnam and it’s often served (as a side dish) alongside other dishes such as Bún Bò Huế.
Chả Huế is fairly safe street food to eat. When correctly cooked it can be stored at room temperatures for about one week and when refrigerated, it can last for up to 3 – 4 weeks.