Crafty destinations

Uoc Le pork paste

Gio and cha are must-have dishes on the food trays of Vietnamese during Tet. With a 500-year traditional craft of making pork paste, Uoc Le villagers in Thanh Oai, Hanoi have brought their products to localities nationwide. 

 

 

According to historical documents, the craft dates back to the Mac dynasty (1527-1592). An odalisque in the imperial court was a villager from Uoc Le who returned to her hometown to build a village gate and teach people the craft of making pork paste. The gate of Uoc Le village has been an imprint of the craft village through the ups and downs of time. 

Annually, the Uoc Le villagers hold their traditional festival when all villagers far from home return Uoc Le to commemorate their ancestor. On this occasion, young men pound pork and other villagers wrap gio (steamed pork paste) and cha (deep-fried cinnamon pork paste) all night. Hot rolls of gio and fragnant pieces of cha are Uoc Le villagers’ specialties which are offered to the village emperor. 

 

 Uoc Le villagers have still kept their secret of making the specific flavor that can't be found anywhere else. 

 

The pork, after being pounded into paste, will be wrapped in banana leaves

before being boiled.


  

  Uoc Le pork paste is offered on altars to ancestors during festive events.


From gio and cha, Uoc Le villagers create various dishes such as beef paste, stir-fried pork paste, belly pork paste, fried pork paste and fermented rolls. All types of paste made from Uoc Le village are favored by customers nationwide. Many foreign visitors to Vietnam also are attracted by the specialty. 

According to an Uoc Le villager Hoang Ba Hop, his family members get up at 3am to pound paste and bring their products to the market in the early morning. His children now use machines and have installed a workshop to make gio and cha. Before Tet, Hop’s family has made hundreds of kilograms of gio and cha to supply to the market. 

The craft of making gio and cha in Uoc Le has developed fruitfully. Although using a machine to make pork paste, Uoc Le villagers have still kept their secret of making the specific flavor that can't be found anywhere else. With the traditional brand name and secret, Uoc Le villagers have opened shops to sell gio and cha in Hanoi and many localities nationwide. Some famous brand names include, Uoc Le,  Xuan Huong pork paste, Phuc Loc Tho and Uoc Le pork paste which are made by Uoc Le villagers. 



   Traditional Uoc Le pork paste products.

 Uoc Le pork paste brand contributes to building the cultural identity and

traditional flavor of Vietnamese cuisine.


Customers choose Uoc Le pork paste branded Xuan Huong.

 

Director of Uoc Le - Xuan Huong pork paste, Hoang Thi Oanh, said that her family has been making gio and cha for three generations. From a small household-scale production facility, Oanh has developed two more large-scale pork paste factories in Hanoi and then established a cooperative of Uoc Le - Xuan Huong pork paste. Every day, Xuan Huong cooperative supplies nearly 30 types of gio and cha to the market. Xuan Huong products are on display at traditional markets, supermarkets and retail shops in Hanoi and neighboring localities. 

 

Uoc Le villagers have been proud of the many brands they have created of Uoc Le pork paste and having benefits with the traditional craft, contributing to preserving and promoting the cultural identity and traditional flavor of Vietnamese cuisine./.


Story: Bich Van Photos: Thanh Giang Translated by Nguyen Tuoi Bài: Bích

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