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Ha Giang’s black chicken hotpot: a nutritious delicacy enjoyed by many

The northern mountainous province of Ha Giang is renowned not only for its stunning scenic spots but also for its specialities like the nutritious black chicken hotpot.

The dish is popular, found across all three regions of Việt Nam. However, the Hà Giang variant is exclusively prepared using free-range black chicken, reared by the H’Mông ethnic people in the mountainous regions.

Sùng Sái Lềnh, a local H’Mông food connoiseur, said that this chicken has tender yet firm meat, and is more savoury but less fatty than chickens in the lowlands.

Historically, the black chicken was seen as rare and precious, making it challenging to purchase.

"For us in the H’Mông community, this type of chicken was reserved for special occasions, like hosting esteemed guests or celebrating Tết (Lunar New Year)," Lềnh said, adding that as locals began to appreciate the significant health benefits of the chicken, numerous households sought to breed and sell it.

Beyond hotpots, black chicken can be cooked in various ways: steamed with medicinal herbs, roasted, grilled with lime leaves and honey, made into porridge, steamed with sticky rice, and more.

Black chicken hotpot has become popular in community tourism. Photo luhanhvietnam.com.vn

The black chicken hotpot has gained popularity in community tourism, as it's a delicacy that most visitors to Hà Giang desire to sample, according to Lềnh.

"While the hotpot can be relished at any time, it's particularly delightful on a winter's evening, as it warms the body, making one feel more at ease and invigorated," he noted.

For an optimal hotpot experience, Lềnh recommends selecting a black chicken that's neither too young nor too old. Ideally, one weighing between 1.3-1.5kg is best, as its meat is flavourful, without any undesirable fishy scent.

A chicken should be chopped into sections and marinated with two tablespoons of fish sauce, one tablespoon of broth mix, one tablespoon of dried onion, and minced ginger for half an hour prior to cooking.


People enjoy black chicken hotpot at a restaurant in Hà Giang. Photo luhanvietnam.com.vn

For a black chicken hotpot, the ingredients encompass enoki and shiitake mushrooms, young maize, an array of vegetables, fresh chilli, peppers, seasonings, and a side bowl of dipping sauce made from premium fish sauce.

Lềnh said that many diners enjoy immersing bò khai, a wild yet delectable vegetable, or mustard greens into the broth. This not only greatly enhances the taste but also counters any greasiness one might feel from the hotpot.

Lềnh said that the hotpot is typically enjoyed with noodles and fresh rice vermicelli.

Today, this hotpot can be found in Hà Giang's ancient streets of Đồng Văn, traditional markets, and in the city centre. Prices fluctuate between VNĐ250,000 and 400,000 per pot.

For visitors keen to purchase a black chicken to take home, the wet markets of Hà Giang are the go-to spots, with prices hovering around VNĐ 250,000 per kilogram.

Bùi Văn Sáng, a herbalist from the Hà Giang Research Centre of Traditional Medicine, highlighted the H’Mông chicken being packed with amino acids and protein, and characterised by its low cholesterol and reduced fat content.

He emphasised that black chicken dishes are often prepared for convalescent patients or those regaining their strength post-illness. Notably, it is especially recommended for individuals with cardiac conditions and anaemia.

Source: VNS

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