Black bread is the new Banh Mi in Halong bay

A group of men from Quang Ninh, home to Vietnam's biggest coal reserve, came up with the idea to bake black bread using squid ink and bamboo charcoal.

The blackness of the bread (banh mi) catches the attention for its complete opposite hue to the regular golden yellow Vietnamese staple. The bread comes out of the oven crispy.

The filling of this exotic banh mi is also different, including minced fried squid, served together in small slices with hot sauce.

To make the sauce, the cook mixes onions, tomatoes, carrots, and oregano, simmered together with shrimp heads for an hour before pureeing.

The black banh mi was inspired by the land where it comes from, Quang Ninh, home to Vietnam's biggest coal reserve and exploitation. The northern province is called "land of coal mines".

A year ago, Khac Tuan, Nguyen Quyet and Pham Tuyen wanted to create a dish that reflects the essence of their hometown.

"We first thought about banh mi that could be served to coal miners between shifts, wanting to also introduce the specialty of squid cakes to tourists. From there, black bread became a reality," Tuan said.

To choose the right squid ink, the group had to test many market varieties as each type of squid produces different colors of ink. The selected squid is from Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO natural heritage site in Quang Ninh.

They spent an equal amount of time testing dough mixtures, which sometimes proved too hard or soggy. After about 20 failed attempts, Tuan and his friends were finally happy with the final result.

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