Thang co cooks a 5-horse meal
Thang co cooks a 5-horse meal
A Thang co festival and its featured horse meat dishes will for the first time be the focus of Bac Ha tourism's cultural week, held between May 30 and June 2 in the northwestern province of Lao Cai.
If you have never tried horse meat, the Bac Ha tourism week taking place from May 30 to June 2 may be the perfect occasion.

Worried there won't be enough? With the largest pan this country has ever seen boiling five horses simultaneously, there should be enough to feed all those curious and hungry visitors.

The horse meat, called thang co, is a traditional dish of the Mong ethnic group in the mountainous north-western region.

With the thang co festival organised for the first time during the local tourism week, this event is looking to make its mark with a giant pan measuring 5m in diameter and 1.5m in depth, large enough to be entered in the Vietnam book of records.

According to Tran Huu Son, director of the Lao Cai Province's culture and Information Department, a two-horses cart will carry the giant pan set to be cast in Bac Ha for the festival.

Following its grand entrance will be a ceremony to set fire to cook thang co, accompanied by the sounds of a musical orchestra. Tourists taking part in Bac Ha festival can come to the ceremony and enjoy the special dish.

Thang co has been known for years as a speciality of the Mong culture. The technique of making it is quite simple. After the animal is killed and washed, its internal parts are removed, which are later cut up. These parts are put in a big pan and fried in their own grease. Minutes later, water is added to the pan and the meat is simmered for hours.

To spice up the dish, salt and some spicy fruits including thao qua and dia dien can be added, giving to the dish an attractive aroma.

Wine is always recommended for men when they eat thang co and women often eat it with com nam (rice balls) or men men (ground maize).

During the group meal of thang co, participants exchange stories about crops, hunting, villages and daughters-in-law. For young bachelors and bachelorettes, it can be a good opportunity to make new friends and even find a future husband or wife.