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Colors are a fundamental element of cooking. No dish is complete without royal reds, splashes of mustard yellows and flairs of appetizing greens. Now, black-colored foods are all the rage in Vietnam. Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, youngsters are finding the mundane and gloomy color a touch more tempting.

Not just a popular color for millennials and Gen Z, Black Chicken Herbal Soup or Gà Tiềm Thuốc Bắc has been a traditional favorite for over 2,000 years. Originating from China before migrating to Vietnam, the soup containing black chicken and medicinal herbs, was used to treat all sorts of ailments. The warm goodness of the broth complements the fall-off-the bone tender chicken, that is lean and nutrient-dense. 

 Touted as a health food and a natural detoxifier, charcoal lends a bitter taste, moisture and tenderness to meat dishes. Squid ink is also making major waves in the country. Vietnamese chefs are attracting a new generation of creative black innovations like Black Bánh mi, Black Mooncakes and Bamboo Charcoal Ice-Cream.

Black sandwich loaf with meaty toppings? Bánh mì is Vietnam’s answer to the western hamburger. Soft and pillowy, the baguettes used to make Bánh mì are quite unique. Hailing from Quang Ninh, Vietnam’s largest coal mining locality, Bamimo pays homage to its hometown with a new twist on the traditional Bánh mi. Made with activated charcoal, the eatery’s baguette boasts a black color in and outside the bread. The sandwich comes with a choice of  fillings, from grilled chicken to grilled beef, roast pork, shrimp, herbs, and pickled vegetables. Not one to rest on their laurels, Bamimo is currently experimenting with fragrant pink renditions of this local sandwich.

Vietnamese style black sandwich (Photo: VN Express)

At the last Mid-Autumn Festival, black charcoal mooncakes became one of the most sought-after items. Homegrown bakery, Butter Land launched its rich Bamboo Charcoal Crusted Mooncakes, adding sensational flavors to the traditionally baked mooncakes. Pitch black with slivers of gold, the mooncakes oozed luxurious flavors, from roasted chicken to mung beans, and matcha with salted egg and coconut milk.

 

Bamboo Charcoal Crusted Mooncakes with slivers of edible gold (Photo: Butterland)

What’s next? Black milk tea and ice cream! Can’t wait to try them all!