Sapa cuisine mirrors the country’s cultural and ethnic diversity, so that one should talk about Sapa cuisines, in the plural. This cuisine is the oldest, and consists mainly of soups, stews and grilled foods.
Main characteristic of Sapa cuisine
Its main characteristic is the systematic use of fresh, light products, mainly tropical or temperate fruit and vegetables. It offers a wide variety of foods ranging from meats, crustaceans and fish to delicious vegetarian specialities accompanied with all sorts of vegetables, herbs, spices and sauces. In the salads, always lightly seasoned, the delicate flavours of papaya, green mango or banana flower intermingle with those of herbs. It is this mixture of subtle flavours of almost infinite variety that makes Sapa cuisine so original.
Another feature of this cuisine is that the vegetables remain crisp and retain all their flavour, because they are chopped up, mixed with just a little garlic or ground ginger, then briefly sauteed on a brisk fire. As for leafy vegetables, instead of being boiled at length, they are just thrown into simmering water with a little added oil, and therefore stay nice and green.
Several varieties of rice
Dishes are served with several varieties of rice: brown rice, crushed rice, sticky rice, green rice, red rice, black rice, long-grain or round-grain rice… whose discreet, refined flavour can be enjoyed with all dishes. There are also rice vermicelli or rice cakes, and wheat or rice noodles.