roasted under-arm pig

“Under-arm” Pigs

The so-called “under-arm” pig (Vietnamese: lợn cắp nách) is a small-sized pig breed that is raised in mountainous northwestern Vietnam. This is a hydrid of a wild boar and an another local small-sized swine breed called “lợn Mường“. This pig breed is as small as a common piglet and its maximum weight size is about 20-25 kgs, however it is often raised to reach the commercial size of 12-15 kgs. The pig feeds on maize, cassava, and some local roots and vegetables. Because this pig is grown free-range without using formulation feeds, it is perceived as a delicacy food which local gourmets often boast its firm meat texture and aromatic flavor.

under-arm pig
Under-arm pig

This “under-arm” swine breed has its funny name because the farmers, who are the mountainous ethnic people, often carry them under their arms to the local markets to sell them. This pig breed can be found in provinces like Lào Cai (especially the touristic city of Sapa) and Yên Bái. Commerical pig farms are also built in these areas. It is believed to the pig is also raised in several farms near urban city of Ho Chi Minh city as well.

under-arm pig dishes
Under-arm pig dishes

Usually, from under-arm pigs, a multi-course meal be made. A castrated male pig or a virgin female one is preferred. The pork can be roasted, stir-fired, steamed, cooked in soups or in a Vietnamese dish called “giả cầy” in which it is marinated with galangal, lemoengrass, fermented rice and shrimp paste. But mostly, the whole pig will be roasted with local spices like dổi seeds (Magnolia balansae), andaliman seeds (Zanthoxylum acanthopodium, Vietnamese: sẻn), bishop wood leaves (Bischofia javanica, Vietnamese: nhội). Another notable dish is the roasted blood sausages. All the serving dishes are often presented in a bamboo tray in restaurants.

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