Tiết canh – A Traditional Raw Blood Pudding Dish and The New No-Blood Evolution
Tiết canh is a northern Vietnamese dish of raw blood pudding with cooked meat fillings. Pork and duck used to be the most common animal used to create this raw blood pudding, but nowadays the common meat is goat. Other animals include rabbit, snake, lobster, crab, Barbary duck and some unusual animals like bamboo rat. Because this is a gamey food, so the consumers of tiết canh are men. Nowadays, some Vietnamese chefs invented a new way to make the dish without using blood. They use beetroots, agar mixed with the meat broth.
The freshly drawn blood is collected in a bowl, and prevented from premature coagulation by mixing it with some fish sauce. Scientifically, the salt in the fish sauce helps prevent blood coagulation. Next, the blood will be poured on a dish or bowls of finely-chopped cooked meat. This time, the blood will be coagulated and turn into a jelly-like pudding.
In the case of lobster and crab, the blood is actually called hemolymph in biological terms. The “blood” here looks transparent with a slightly blue tint. The cooked lobster and crab meat must be prepared first in a serving plate, and then the blood will be drawn directly from the lobsters or crabs into the dish.
In the case of no-blood dish, the beetroots are cooked to make the red color, and the broth is cooked from either the bone or the meat, so it will have some umami flavor. So agar powder will be stirred evenly in a hot clear meat broth with beetroot juice. The solution will be poured on a plate with cooked chopped meat. When the agar is coagulated, it will have the similar texture to the real tiết canh dish.
The dish is usually served with lime wedges (to add acidity taste), roasted Asian shallots, roasted and crushed peanuts, sheared herbs such as Vietnamese mint, true mint, coriander and sawtooth coriander. Such dish are often found in restaurants that sell gamey food. Crab and lobster tiết canh can be found in seafood restaurants. The beverage is often rice wine or vodka because the customers are mainly men.