Nighttime thoroughfares in the Saigon boonies are stuffed with sweetcorn sellers. Some fry – Bap xao, some steam – Bap hap and others grill – Bap nuong. Whereas in downtown Saigon, corn’s not so common. I find this seller at 39 Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1. She sells steamed and fried corn. She also sells steamed Trung vit lon (duck eggs). I’m going steamed corn tonight. She takes fresh corns from the steamer and if you want to tuck in tout de suite (like me) she’ll strip the husk for you before sticking your stick in a bag. Sweet, hot, young and fresh – No – not noodlegirl – although she’s
pretty darn hot – but corn, that’s the way I like my corn. Too old and
they’re generally not sweet enough and can also be somewhat hard. It costs 2000VD. I’d gladly pay 2000VD just to shove my head in among the sweet steam venting from that vat below.
This corn tastes as good as my steam test suggested. Its soft ‘n’ sweet, hot ‘n’ juicy with a healthy moorish crunch. Gnawtastic. However, I hear from a very reliable source that the Bap nuong number, which I haven’t tried or found yet, with butter, done the ‘Saigon way’, is amaizeing. I’ve had three or four steamed corns from various stalls in recent weeks and this is the best so far. But, I’m buggered if I can tell top corn from turd? I’ve absolutely no idea. One vendor on my local market told me that the young seller I go to for my corns hides her best specimens in the deepest recesses of her pot. They’re reserved for favoured customers. On my last visit I made sure I grabbed mine from the bottom only to find it came with a free worm inside. Back to square one. Anyone out there with the horn for corn? Got a reliable corn buying strategy to share?