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Vietnam: Dog meat restaurant

Blogger hanoi scratchpad writes about his recent visit to a dog meat restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Dog eating has deep roots in Vietnam; it is a practice steeped in ritual, and associated with certain dates on the lunar calendar. Dog meat (thịt chó) may be eaten for various reasons aside from culinary pleasure, such as to increase male virility or bring about good luck.

The blogger learned that there are seven ways to cook dog in Vietnamese cuisine. These seven dishes are:

Rựa Mận – Steamed dog meat with shrimp paste, rice flour, and lemongrass
Giềng Me Mắm Tôm – Steamed dog in shrimp paste, galangal, and rice vinegar
Thịt Chó Hấp – Steamed dog meat
Thịt Chó Nướng – Grilled dog meat
Dồi Chó – Dog sausage
Chó Xào Sả Ớt – Fried dog in lemongrass and chili
Canh Xáo Măng Chó – Bamboo and dog meat soup

dog meat

So how was the dog meat?

While flavorful – save for the dog sausage, which I didn't particularly care for – there was little to make dog, as a flavor experience, particularly unique. Whereas lamb has a distinct taste that shines through most recipes, dog disappears into its method of preparation. When prepared like pork, it could just as easily be pork; when prepared like beef, it could just as easily be beef.

This post generated some angry comments. Here is an anonymous commenter

It is inhumane and cruel to eat dog meat. Not all Vietnamese love it and I think only people in the north do as they were too poor and used to starve to death in the past. That's why they ate their own pets and thought it was lucky enough to stay alive for doing so.

Another angry commenter:

OMG! Dogs are our loyal pets. Hello???? You people are all nuts. Eat to live not live to eat. if one said there is no distinction between animals then you can eat human beings too since we are also animals. Eating dog is morally wrong.

This anonymous commenter writes that dog meat was non-existent in Saigon in the past

I grew up in Saigon and left Vietnam in 1981. Prior to the end of the war in 1975, dogmeat was hard to find in the South. There were no “dogmeat restaurants”, at least in Saigon.

After the war ended, a lot of Northern Vietnamese settled in the South, and one began to see dogmeat restaurants open up…. I did not find it particularly tasty.

dogmeat

hanoi scratchpad recognizes that there are legitimate reasons why eating dog meat should be prohibited but he dismisses the common arguments used by animal activists:

Consider that Vietnam consumes an estimated four to five million dogs per year. This is roughly the number of cats and dogs that are annually euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. So which country is the paragon of civilized virtues, the nation that incinerates the animals it murders, or the nation that eats them?

Dog meat is eaten in several countries including Vietnam’s neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Vutha is shocked to see dog meat shops in Phnom Penh

There are small handfuls of Cambodian people like eating it.

Nowadays, there are small shops using dog meat as food for people who like it in Phnom Penh. Most of dogs have been stolen and sold to dog shop.

Gloria Esguerra Melencio is aware that eating dog meat has a cultural and historical basis in some indigenous groups in the Philippines but this practice has been abused already. The writer explains in detail how some Filipino men prepare dog meat:

1. Strangle the dog from behind by surprise. Do this swiftly to prevent the dog from biting. Gag its mouth. Throw the dog in a waiting jeepney, tricycle or van. Drive as fast to avoid apprehension. When accosted though, bribe the barangay tanod or police with your crispy Php 500 bill. Should you bought the dog from a nearby area from an owner who is in dire need of money, put the dog in a sack. Carry the sack on your back.

2. Remove the dog from the sack. Tie the dog in a post. Do not hear its barks, cries and howls for dear life. Hit its head with a two-by-two inch piece of lumber with a nail at the end. Do this several times until it is dead.

3. Hang the lifeless dog on a tree branch or post upside down. Slit its throat. Place a basin underneath to catch blood. Sprinkle rice and salt on blood until it solidifies. (Blood of black dogs is a potent medicine against tuberculosis, says a folk belief in Negros.)

4. Burn the dog coat with a flame thrower. Release the lifeless dog from the post. Shave until its smooth white skin shows.

5. Slice to pieces. Wash.

6. Put the dog meat in a kawa or a big pan. Boil in vinegar for an hour.

7. Add a little water and sprinkle salt. Do not mix yet. Let it stand for a few more minutes.

8. Cook again in low, cooking fire. Add potatoes, soy sauce and sprinkle with black pepper.

9. Pour tomato sauce, tomato paste, yellow and green peas and garnish with plenty of laurel leaves.

10. Serve with plenty of ice-cold beers or gin.

Pictures from the blog of hanoi scratchpad

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