How to Make Authentic Five Spice Grilled Pork from Sapa

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finished - How to make authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.comToday we feature how to make Vietnamese-style, five spice grilled pork from Sapa Town in northern Vietnam.  Photographers, tourists, and hikers all love Sapa and with good reason. Colorful markets, the vibrant dress of the local hill tribes, spectacular rice terraces throughout the valleys, great food, and fantastic hiking are easy to find. The local traditions are strong and it is a bit different to the rest of Vietnam.

Sapa is a town (as opposed to a city) and the surrounding areas are rich in agriculture. It is a little cooler than other parts of Vietnam due to the altitude and the mountains. With a number of local markets to choose from you can see how the locals trade and barter for everything. Need a water buffalo? Yep, those are at the market!

 

Hiking in Sapa

sapa town - How to make authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.comThe hiking ranges in difficulty and remoteness. Cat Cat Valley is the closest to town, the easiest, and the most commercial. You can walk downhill and the ever-enterprising locals wait at the bottom on their motorbikes and for a small fee (negotiate), they will bring you back to the top.

If you want to go further afield you can walk to Ta Phin, the village of the Red Dao people. We walked up to this village one morning. Along the way we met one of the ladies from the local village. We talked to her as we walked (it is a few hours). It was most interesting and we learned quite a bit. She had walked to Sapa that morning to have breakfast with her daughter who was in boarding school there. She spoke English quite well having taught herself in order to host families in her home. (Home stays are very common in Sapa and the surrounding villages).  Her other income was from handicrafts. It was a pleasant walk and the scenery was stunning. You pass a lot of terraced rice fields.

There were people out working their fields. Several times we saw men in their bare feet in the rice paddies using a plow and water buffalo to till the soil. Hard work!

In an effort to diversify and bring more income to these families, several other agriculture projects have begun, including growing herbs and artichokes for medicinal purposes. Most rice production is for food. Most families do not grow enough to have surplus for income.

Ricefields - how to make authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.com

Another good downhill hiking option is Ta Van. You wind through several villages and this allows an opportunity to see the Mong people and how they live. At Ta Van you can eat lunch or just return to Sapa. We again used local transport on the back of a motorbike to return to Sapa.

Each of these hikes has a “gate” at the beginning of the hike where you need to purchase a ticket. This is a nominal fee and provides income to the town.

There are other hikes that can include overnight homestays. There are several organizations in Sapa arranging homestays and a guide for an overnight hike. Day hiking you will be fine without a guide but you may choose to use one. Many women wait at the start of the hike and you can find a guide here or arrange one in advance.

Ethnic Minority Hill Tribes

There are a number of ethnic minority tribes in the area and all dress in their traditional clothing. The dress varies considerably and you can tell their ethnic origin by their clothing:  Red Dao (red headdresses), Black Hmong (dark indigo clothing), and Flower Hmong (colorful skirts and double breasted jackets) tribes are the most common.

women of sapa - How to make authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.com

incense - How to make authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.comYou will see many of these ladies in Sapa when they come from their villages to sell their handicrafts, vegetables or act as guides. Many will have their baby strapped on their back.

Common handicrafts include weaving (textiles), wood or silver work, baskets, and incense. All of these are still made by hand. As you walk through the villages there are plenty of opportunities to see them working. Incense is often seen drying on the rooftops of buildings.

There are a number of local markets, each held on a different day.  All are a day trip from Sapa. Depending on when you visit, you can arrange transport to the appropriate market at your hotel. The pictures we have from the Bac Ha market and the ethnic dress of the ladies are just beautiful. It is highly recommended as both a photo opportunity and a chance to explore the local culture. While there are many tourists there and you can buy souvenirs and other goods directed toward tourists, it is also where the locals shop and trade. Many of the vendors have products that are directed to the locals, not the tourists.

 

bac ha market - How to make authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.comCuisine in North Vietnam

Sapa was originally established as a hill station by the French in 1922. French influence can be seen in both the architecture and the cuisine.

Some of the minority hill tribes have come to Vietnam from Thailand or Laos so the food shows more of their influence in the far north of Vietnam. Soups, stews and grilled foods are common. Rice is usually served as an accompaniment.

The Sapa market (which begins on a series of steps from the main street) is large and diverse. You can find everything here! It is worth a wander just to explore the diversity of herbs and vegetables. Throughout the market (and the wider town) there are a large number of shops selling traditional medicines. Some of these have the labels in English and it fascinating to see what some of the stuff actually is!

sapa market - How to make authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.com

 

How to Make Authentic Five Spice Grilled Pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.com

 

Sapa How to Make the Most of Your Visit www.compassandfork.com
A Foodies Guide to the Best of Vietnam authentic grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.com
How to Make Authentic Five Spice Grilled Pork from Sapa
Print Recipe
Print Recipe
Here is a simple to make, marinated, pork dish that is a little bit gourmet. Quick and satisfying. The combination of pork and five spice is one made in heaven. You can cook on a bbq or in the broiler.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4people 15minutes 6minutes 30minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
6minutes 30minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Simply mix all marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add pork to the mixture. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.marinating the pork - How to make authentic Five Spice grilled pork from Sapa www.compassandfork.com
  2. Light the grill and barbecue until cooked, about 6 minutes, turning half way.
  3. Simple serve with steamed rice, or for a paleo alternative try spaghetti squash. Garnish with with green onion and red chili for some color.How to Make the Perfect Vietnamese Dinner Party Authentic Five Spice Grilled Pork | Vietnamwww.compassandfork.com
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8 Responses

  1. Estefi
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I will add this to my recipe book as a new thing to cook. I really like the history that you gave us about the dish and region where it came from.

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thanks for your kind comment. I enjoy providing a context to the dish and I learn lots of interesting details for myself, which is not a bad thing!

  2. Katharina
    | Reply

    On oh that looks delicious and I like the fact you wrote an introduction to its cultural origins. Thank you for sharing Katharina I http://www.beautifullytravelled.com

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thanks Katharina. We like to give a bit of cultural context where we can. It definitely gives you a deeper understanding of things.

  3. Siddhartha Joshi
    | Reply

    Lovely vibrant images, especially the hill tribes. I am a vegetarian, but I loved your images nevertheless 🙂

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thank you so much. There were plenty of vegetarian meals in Sapa as well!

  4. Camilla @FabFood4All
    | Reply

    This dish looks so good, loving the honey and spices here:-)

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Camilla,
      It has some fantastic taste, but it is really quite simple to do. We are big fans of Vietnamese food (can’t you tell?!)

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