Blog of P-Nguyen
Viet Nam – Can Tho Traditional Chow Fun Making Craft
When you have a chance to visit Can Tho- Viet Nam , it is a regret if you miss great and interesting experience in its traditional crafts such as Thuan Hung rice-paper making village, Thom Rom net-knitting village, Thoi Nhut Flower village, Thoi Long little shrimp trap knitting village, and once strolling around Cai Rang floating market, you should pay a visit to Can Tho traditional chow fun making village.
In Cai Rang, there are many households making this traditional chow fun, but most notably, Sau Hoai plant and Chin Cuu plant in the area of Rau Ram Bridge. Beside their daily production, these facilities are also willing to welcome both domestic and international tourists from everywhere to come to visit and witness their production process.
Craftsmen and craftswomen hare have still followed the classical manual processing procedure, aging equipment and remained the unique characteristics of the long-lasting traditional trade village to deliver chewy and delicious chow fun strand products with gracious sweetness.
Production facilities of only 300 square meters large are designed with covers, and an ample-space yard for drying the chow fun in the sun.
To compete and keep “brand”, each craft household owns its special know-how for each stage to promote the uniqueness of their own products. Fresh, white and fragrant should be used as the major material, which is often called as “White rice – pure water”. The next steps are rice washing, water suction, rice spin, and then pouring it into a big water hopper to create and stir the rice starch. After that, spread the ground rice batter super thin over the tray and then take to dry in the sun for several hours and the dried chow fun is cut by a rudimentary craft cutting machine and can be taken immediately to consumers. The work is often done in the morning from 3 am to about 11a.m and in the afternoon the local can rest. Therefore you should come in the morning to witness the manufacturing process.
Spreading and taking rice paper out of the stove is a really skillful and rhythmic stage of the worker. With two stoves operated at the same time, rice paper is taken out of one stove and is spread on the other stove. One worker quickly takes rice papers to the bamboo rack and dries them under the sun. The ingenuity of the workers produces rice crepes by spreading sheets with similar thickness, surfaces without pock-marked spots and precise timing of each stage as defined in the process without a clock watch.
After drying under the sun from 3 to 4 hours the rice papers are cut into strips by a machine. Chow fun strips are thin, long and they look very delicious.
There are two types of chow fun strips depending on customer’s interests, the milky type has the color of dry rice starch and the other type, which is yellow, is made from turmeric powder without any substitute chemicals.
When enjoying a bowl of chow fun that is a specialty of West region, you will hardly forget the workers who wholeheartedly work hard to produce these delicious chow fun strips.
Article and photos by Nguyen Vu Phuoc
First stage of making chow fun is to soak rice and stir the water to make rice starch Rudimentary equipment used for this stage
Rice starch is taken for spreading, this stage is similar to roll rice spreading but the stove is bigger and wider.
After steaming rice starch is done, it will be rolled by a bamboo roller and unrolled onto a bamboo mat.
Carefully spread the rice paper so that they are not folded or wrinkled
Dry the mats with rice papers under the sun
After dried, rice papers will be stacked up neatly.
Cut the rice paper into thin and long strips by the machine.
After cutting, one worker will gather these soft chow fun strips by hands and put into bags and these finished rice papers shall be taken to the customers.