I said chả - speciality from North because in Hà Nội the variety of chả is much richer than in South, and the quality is also different - better!
Chả bò - fried beef ham with an extra flavor from dill.
But here we are not talking how to prepare a good quality, irresistible chả, it would be a big secret that we may never learn from the makers, esp. in North, when it's a generation-to-generation family business without leaking out to the outsiders.
I did introduce our ham (or chả) to some foreign friends, the only problem they face is - they can smell the fish sauce, so if you have a problem with it, you don't like chả, but better give it a try, with a good a baguette!
We eat chả almost every day, we can find chả in many dishes, chả can be as an "independent" element but in most case we are having chả with some other stuff: either bread (most favorite) or sticky rice cake (bánh dày, I love this one - my first childhood's street food!), savory stick rice, or in some rice noodles dish.
Talking about chả we have a quite good proverb in our folklore "Husband is having ham, wife is having spring roll" (ông ăn chả, bà ăn nem). I need to explain. This proverb is not about how good are our delicacies, nor the equality between husband and wife (!), but about the unfaithful relationship in marriage. If husband has an affair, why not wife? And "nem" here is another our famous traditional dish that I'd love to share it one day!
How many kinds of chả we have ? As chả can made of pork, beef, fish, cuttlefish, shrimp...but for daily cooking or meal, only pork and beef are the most popular, fish is also getting there.
The most popular among chả - it's chả lụa (literally means silk ham), the word "silk" could come from the color - light pink or from the smooth but a bit strong texture. Silk ham varies in flavor and taste, it depends on the province. I heard and agreed that if we buy chả lụa from North at the right place - it would be one of the best, but I probably prefer chả from Central area, the taste is a bit sweeter but more aromatic!
Chả is a "must" for many celebrations, esp. for our Tết - Lunar New Year, for the first New Year's meal, the death anniversary...but back to our routine life, I love to have simply chả with a good baguette, no other stuffs, just sprinkle a bit salt and pepper, maybe a some slices of fresh cucumber. I'll surely enjoy it!
Giò chả Minh Châu - 78 Lý Tự Trọng, district 1, HCMC.