Thang Co – the Unique Specialty of Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa Food and Specialties

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: November 27, 2019

Thang Co, a renowned specialty in the mountainous Sapa, Lao Cai province, is not an easy dish to swallow for many tourists at first. However, no trip to Sapa would be completed without knowing or tasting the flavor of this very special dish.

Thang Co is a popular dish among travelers as a specialty recipe of H’Mong ethnic minority group. This dish means “a big pot of water” in H’Mong language.

In Thang Co, the main ingredient is horsemeat, but in fact, Sapa local people cooks “Thang Co” by using cow, buffalo, or pork.

cooking Thang Co

This dish seems to be not easy to eat for most travelers to Sapa, particularly women. Ideally, it should be eaten with fresh veggies like chayote, lemongrass, cabbage, and chili leaf. Thang Co’s special sauce containing a spice and a bitter zing is what makes its unique taste, which is totally different from other tastes that you have ever enjoyed.

According to local people, in the past, the H’Mong only walk on foot or rode horse. As consequences, Thang Co dish appeared as a traditional feast due to the horsemeat abundance.

After being used as a means of transportation, the horses get sick or become too old to work, then they would be used as the main ingredient in Thang Co dish. After butchering and washing, horsemeat will be stewed. The taste is highly pungent at first, but it becomes neutralized with many spices. The meat is then chopped into small pieces and tossed with different spices in a big pot. To stew the meat and bones, water is added and left for several hours.

Accordingly, the phrase “Cheer Thang Co” was born among the H’Mong to celebrate this specialty in the local markets.

Suggested reading: Brocatelle weaving & herbal bath in Ta Phin village, Sapa

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