Friday, November 27, 2015

Traditional Music Classes

Established in 2005 in a small house near the ancient communal house of Hao Nam, the Vietnam Music Development Centre  has organised many classes to teach traditional Vietnamese musical forms, involving the participation of a  large number of people.

In a cultural space of the serene ancient communal house, students of different ages are engulfed in lessons on playing traditional musical instruments  and singing Ca Tru (ceremonial singing), Xam (an art form which has existed for centuries and was very popular in the rural areas of the northern plains in the past) and Quan ho (love duet) taught by People’s Artist Pham Dinh Khang and artist Thao Giang who founded and run the centre.

With a desire to preserve and bequeath the traditional Vietnamese folk music genres to younger generations,  artists  Pham Dinh Khang and Thao Giang established the Vietnam Music Development Centre where students are taught to perform with drums, flutes and castanets and singing folk music with a different method – without any manuals but approaching music directly in a natural and easy to understand manner.

Artist Thao Giang shows his students how to use Senh (clappers) in Xam singing. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Recipe: Mini-Pancakes with Meatball sauce

Recipe: Mini-Pancakes with Meatball sauce

It is a mini-pancake topped with a quail egg, served with pork meatballs and a sweet fish-sauce based dipping sauce. Unlike Banh Khot, Banh Can is not fried but cooked in batches over a low-heat charcoal on what looks like a giant cupcake tray made from clay with cute little lids over each cake. It’s not at all greasy but still crispy on the outside and soft and fragrant on the inside.

Video by: Helen
Chanel Youtube:
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 500 g pork minced
  • 1 tbsp shallots minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Fish sauce
  • spring onion chopped
  • vegetable oil
  • Wash a cup of rice and then soak in water for at least 24 hours. Drain well and transfer to a blender and blend rice with 1/2 cup of cooked rice and 1 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • To make meatballs, season 500 g minced pork with 1 tbsp minced shallots, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp chicken stock and 2 tbsp fish sauce. Then mix well and set aside for 15 mins.
  • Grease a deep plate with some with some vegetable oil, then shape the seasoned minced meat into small balls and place onto the plate. Steam for about 15-20 mins until you see no pink water coming out when you poke the meatballs with a chopstick.
  • Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a small saucepan and fry some minced garlic and shallots until fragrant. Then add a cup of water, 1 tsp chicken stock and transfer the meatballs into the saucepan. Add the juice, some chili flakes and bring to a boil.
  • To make extra dipping sauce, dissolve a quarter cup of sugar in 1 cup of water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp chicken stock. Stir well over medium heat until everything is well dissolved. Then add 1-2 tbsp fish sauce.
  • Grease the metal mini-pancake pan with some vegetable oil. When the pan is really hot, stir up the batter and pour into the holes. Swirl the pan in a circular motion to distribute the batter evenly. Cover and cook until they turn crispy.
  • To make scallion oil, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a small pan and fry the white parts of the spring onion shredded until quite golden, then add the chopped green onion and turn off the heat.
  • Flip the pancakes over for 1 minute to cook the top completely. Beat some eggs and add to the top of the cakes. To serve, add some dipping sauce to a small bowl and ladle the meatballs into it, together with some scallion oil. Sprinkle with some pepper and chili sauce.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The most popular Vietnamese dishes to attract foreign tourists

Vietnamese cuisine shows its simplicity that many of the most popular dishes can be made and found not only in restaurant but also on the side of the road. Vietnam has a special culture – the street food one.

Pho is one of the most quintessential dish of Vietnam
Pho is one of the most quintessential dish of Vietnam

Monday, October 19, 2015

“ Xam” – A Tale of Vietnamese Folk Music

 “Xam” is known in Vietnam as  folk music usually performed by blind street singers to earn their living. As it originated from the working class and poor people, “Xam” has become an intellectual part of the commoners’ cultural life. Its most distinctive trait lies in the simplicity and popularity of its lyrics and the earthliness but profoundness of daily life in the songs’ lyrics, which often narrate daily-life stories, satirizing and criticizing severely the social evils while highly praising education and humanitarian values. 

Therefore, “Xam”  doesn’t care so much about costumes and stages like other types of traditional arts. “Xam” singing can be performed anywhere, on any street or corner where large numbers of people pass. It is so simple that anyone can sing some verses to express their inner feelings on life.

After a long period of decline, “Xam” has been recently revitalised through a program titled “Tale of ‘Xam’ ” performed by master artists of Vietnamese traditional music, especially People’s Artist Thanh Hoai and People’s Artist Xuan Hoach, who have fully and vividly revitalised the life and soul of “ Hat Xam” (Xam singing) through their beautiful vocals and talented musical skills.

 Xam – A Tale of Vietnamese Folk Music
The “ Tale of Xam” program is organised in Manzi Art Space at 14 Phan Huy Ich Street, Hanoi.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ba Vi – a complex of interesting and wonderful sites

Ba Vi National Park is one of the wonderful and fascinating parks located in Ba Vi district. It is very suitable for those who are nature lovers and wish to discover the landscapes and nature on the mountains. Let’s come to Ba Vi to admire and learn more about the lung of Hanoi capital.

Visiting Ba Vi National Park, visitors will have many things to see, discover and experience. In the first place, Ba Vi national park is a famous landscape that you can not neglect when coming to Ba Vi. Visitors will enjoy the spectacular natural scenery of the mountain and discover a lot of rare plants and animals here. There are 63 species of mammals, 1209 species of plants and 21 of them are rare plant listed in the Vietnam Red Book such as Bach xanh, Sen mat, Phi ba mui, De tung so trang, Hoa tien,ect. Ba Vi National Park is considered the lung of Hanoi capital. In addition, when coming to Ba Vi National Park, visitors can have a chance to discover the orchid garden and bird garden in the Park. Visiting the park will help you learn more about rare animals and plants and admire orchid garden and bird garden with different types of birds.

 Ba Vi – a complex of interesting and wonderful sites

Sunday, September 27, 2015



Recipe: Imperial Omelette Roll – Chả phụng

Video by: Helen
Chanel Youtube:

  • Steam the vegetables for 5 mins or put it into a microwave for 3-5 mins to roughly cook them first
  • Crack the 3 eggs into a bowl, then season with some salt and pepper and beat well
  • Keep the pan on medium heat and add just a little bit of oil and use a piece of paper towel to wipe it off. Pour the egg mixture and swirl the pan in a circular motion to cover the base and pour the remaining of the eggs out. Wait for about 5 secs when the edge of the omelette is losing out, you can flip it over for 1 second and then take it out. Then continue with the next omelette without using the oil again

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Touring Hanoi by Cyclo

These days, one can see the most modern vehicles on Hanoi’s streets but the three-wheel cyclos are still a familiar image of the thousand-year-old city for many local residents as well as visitors to the charming capital of Vietnam.
To learn more about cyclos, we called on the man who is dubbed “the king of cyclos in Hanoi”. Do Anh Thu is the owner of Sans Souci cyclo, the earliest cyclo company founded in Hanoi.

Thu said that Sans Souci is a French word meaning “carefree”. He hoped that both the drivers and the customers of his cyclo company have an optimistic and leisurly outlook on life. At the present time, Sans Souci is the biggest cyclo company in Hanoi with over 160 cyclos in action.

A cyclo is a human-powered form of transportation with a seat  in the front for passengers and the driver sitting on a seat and pedalling in the back. It was originally inspired by rickshaws pulled by humans that were used to carry French and local mandarins during the French colonial period. The cyclo first appeared in Hanoi in 1939 and was the popular means of transportation for Hanoians in the past. In the early 20th century, only the elite or rich people could afford cyclo rides. 

Cyclos, a popular means of transport of Hanoians in the past,  are now used mainly for serving tourists.
Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Foreign tourists enjoy a tour around Hanoi by cyclo. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

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