The viands of M’nong minoriy – Thut soup

Thut is the name for a kind of traditional soup of M’nong ethnic group’s people (M’nong people) which is made from materials available in the nature. According to Mnong people, Thut soup can be very useful in many ways , such as fostering strength, treating indigestion and flatulence, wearing down the bad effect of alcohol and is is also good for mothers after births, frail and aged people, children suffering from rickets…

The primary materials for making this traditional are all availabe in the nature, including the leaves of Gnetum gnemon, rattan bubs, garden eggs, pepper, fresh water fish and meat. For generations, M'nong people have considered such materials as the precious specialities endowed to them by the Heaven and the Earth. 

The primary materials needed for making Thut soup includes  peel –removed  rattan shoots (as shown), young leaves of Gnetum gnemon, fresh water fish, green pepper and garden eggs (green)..

Unlike the other kind of soup name Boi soup which also use Gnetum gnemon leaves as a main component , Thut soup is cooked with the young or immature leaves, not the mature leaves.  It is because the leaves of Gnetum gnemon are normally picked after rainy days during which the leaves are already washed off  so people would not necessarily wash them again and the main purpose is to preserve the leaves's characteristic smell and flavour. As for the rattan shoots,  after being brought back from forest, theirs outer layers would be removed,  just the inner part of the younger ends being kept for making the dish.

For garden eggs, people choose ones of small size and rather sweet flavour which are different from the ones of bigger size, greener color interspersed with white stripes and bitter flavour that people of Mnong and E de ethnic groups usually cook with the dried fish. This kind of garden egg used in Thut soup has been long domesticated and grown in the gardens by M'nong people. For pepper, that must be M'nong people's  favorite kind, which has green color, small size and sweet cent. Pepper is certainly an indispensable spice for Thut soup.

Fresh water fish

Another essential  material for Thut soup is fish or meat instead. The fishes of small size are usually caught from the streams, then cleaned up, subject to preliminarily process  and then toasted over the slow-burning charcoal, which is to reduce the fishy scent. In this soup, the fish would be cook as a whole without having their bone removed. In case of not having fish, some other materials such as pork, chicken, birds, squirrel meat, dried skin of buffaloes or cows could be used as replacements. 

Generally speaking, depending on the preferable liking of each family, the amount of each material for cooking Thut soup such as rattan shoots, garden eggs, fish and meat can be decided accordingly. Finally, Thut soup would not be able to be what it is without the bamboo stems being used as the soup's  holder during its cooking process.The bamboo stems must be carefully selected so that they are those of the right development period, which is not too young or too mature and the stem must has the length of over 1 meter.

Gnetum gnemon leaves

After the charcoal is lit and starts burning steadily, the bamboo stems would be tilted at a certain angle over the burning charcoal to be heated. During the cooking time, the light must be kept moderate, not too high and the bamboo stems must be spinned around itself  bit by bit and continuously so that the insde materials gets cooked overall and the stems are not scorched. The cooking time usually lasts for 30 minutes and the spices like salt or seasoning powder will be added after the cooking is done.

Green peppers and garden eggs.

Over the cooking period, the bamboo stems discharge a kind of liquid that disolves in the soup,  giving it a distinct flavour. After the cooking is done, people use a stick whittled from bamboo timber to prod the soup (inside the bamboo stems) again and again until the soup's components get welled-crushed and finely mixed together. This process explains the name of the dish, because in Vietnamese, "Thut" is the word for describing the action of proding something through a long container using a long and thin object.

On occasions when the whole family gets together, M'nong people usually put aside the bamboo stems of Thut soup added with a lot more pepper for the adults and youths. During the meals, just a little of Thut soup to go with the rice is enough to conjure up that feeling of being satisfied and elated because the unbelivable flavour coming from  the mix of sweet, bitter, hot and buttery tastes is so appeal to ones who enjoy it.

Thut soup of mixed flavour of sweet, buttery, bitter and hot taste is included  in the traditional meals of M'nong people

From the past time till now, it seems that the way of cooking Thut soup has got to be  known to almost each and every person of Mnong ethnic group and the dish itself has  become the favorite or the speciality of the group as well. For Mnong people, not only do they include Thut soup in their meal on a daily basis, or the occasions when the families get together, they also formaly make Thut soup as an indispensible offering to dedicate to their Gods in traditional festivals.

Thut soup is a very common dish  in the daily life of Mnong people. For those who will and might have come to Dak Nong province, the dish is sure to impressed and give them such an unforgetable experience once they take time to give it a try.

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