Reading – Specialty of the land of coconut

Practice Reading Cooking Article – Soil and climate in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre are behind the steady and strong growth of local coconut trees. The palm has become the main ingredient of many provincial dishes, among which is coconut rice, arguably the most popular specialty in Ben Tre.

Preparations for the dish take time, according to local cooks. In certain ways, they say, cooking coconut rice is similar to making com lam (rice in bamboo tube) in the northwestern region. However, the Mekong Delta rice specialty is cooked in coconut shells instead of sections of a bamboo trunk.

To have the best coconut rice, fragrant rice and the local xiem coconut (Siamese coconut) must be chosen. The coconut is without doubt the best Ben Tre has to offer with its exceptional sweet milk.

The clean rice is put into coconut shells. Next, add fresh coconut milk. The mixture of rice and fresh coconut milk is then steamed. A good cook should know exactly the right proportion of rice and coconut milk.

Ben Tre’s rustic dish is more appealing to food lovers when it is served with stewed shrimps, again being boiled in coconut milk. Diners should enjoy the rice while it is still hot.

Coconut trees are so closely attached to local people’s lifestyle, culture and gastronomy that the specialty may be said to represent the province’s cuisine.

In Ben Tre, which is often referred to as the “land of coconuts,” this rice specialty is often available in family reunions and traditional festivals.

By Quynh Han & Thu Hang

Original article found at:

After you read the cooking articles


  1. True, False? Read the statements below and write T (True), F (False)

1. ___Soil in Ben Tre province is the only factor that results in the steady and strong growth of local coconut trees.
2. ___After cooking coconut rice, the writer shares that its preparation takes a lot of times.
3. ___Jasmine rice and the local coconut will make up the best coconut rice.
4. ___Every cook knows the correct ratio of rice and coconut milk to have delicious coconut rice.
5. ___Coconut rice is a rural dish which is more delicious when it is served with stewed shrimps boiled in coconut milk.
6. ___The dish is still tasty, even when it is not hot.
7. ___“Land of coconuts” is also a name of Ben Tre province.

2.      [ADVANCED] Choose the option, A, B or C which does NOT mean the same as the first sentence.

  1. The price of food in the restaurant is cheap.
    1. The price of a meal in the restaurant is reasonable.
    2. The restaurant is excellent if you want a budget meal.
    3. The food in the restaurant is overpriced.
  2. Marco cooked us a really tasty meal.
    1. The meal Marco prepared was delicious.
    2. Marco cooked us a really unappetising meal.
    3. The meal Marco made for us was mouth-watering.
  3. We were served food that was cooked in the old-fashioned way.
    1. The meal we had was very contemporary in style.
    2. The meal we had was very traditional.
    3. The meal was made from a historic recipe.
  4. When I went to Thailand, I really enjoyed trying the street food.
    1. I really liked tasting the food that was sold outdoors in Thailand.
    2. In Thailand I loved the food we bought from stalls in the streets.
    3. I enjoyed eating at restaurants when I was in Thailand.
  5. The chef at the Lodge Hotel is very skillful.
    1. The chef at the Lodge Hotel is bad at his job.
    2. The chef at the Lodge Hotel has a lot of expertise.
    3. The chef at the Lodge Hotel is highly trained.
  6. The ingredients for the recipe can be changed to ones you have available.
    1. You can use different ingredients to make this dish if you can’t find everything.
    2. You can be flexible about what ingredients you add to this recipe.
    3. You should follow the recipe strictly or it won’t taste good.
  7. The chef at the new restaurant is famous across the country.
    1. The chef at the new restaurant is well known nationally.
    2. The chef at the new restaurant is recognized across the country.
    3. The chef at the new restaurant is unknown outside of his town.
  8. I didn’t like the soup; it was too spicy.
    1. The soup had too much pepper.
    2. The soup wasn’t tasty.
    3. The soup was a bit too hot for my taste.

B.    VOCABULARY on reading cooking article

  1. Underline the words in the box below in the reading passage above. Then complete each sentence with the correct word.

  1. Coconut is a basic _______ for many curries and other Asian dishes.
  2. Like Quang-style noodle soup, cao lau is a ______ of the central region in general and Hoi An in particular.
  3. Yet the most well-known is ______ jellyfish noodle soup. Those who have tasted the dish will never forget its special flavor.
  4. Lemon grass and chili are indispensable as they help get rid of the fish smell. In addition, the ______ of fermented fish paste and water must be equal to keep the balance flavor of the broth to avoid being too salty. (Bun mam, or noodle soup with fermented fish paste)
  5. Rice paper roll with small rice-field prawns served with herbs and a small bowl of spicy fish sauce is a local _____ dish which wins the heart of many food lovers.
  6. The combination of ingredients in the fish paste hotpot is typical for _____ in the Mekong Delta. (fish paste hotpot, known locally as lẩu mắm).
  7. The special hotpot in the central coast city may partly carry the meaning of Vietnam’s ______. Each ingredient of the dish symbolizes one of the five elements of earth including metal, wood, water, fire and soil. (Lau tha, or tha hotpot)
  8. Fill in the blank in the following sentence with correct prepositions/ prepositional phrases.

      1. Don’t worry! I’m _______ you completely in your endeavors.
      2. ___________ police, Miller was arrested at the scene of the robbery.
      3. Her ideas are quite similar _______ mine.
      4. Gillespie will play in midfield instead _____ Cochrane.
      5. Jo is ______ doubt one of the finest swimmers in the school.
      6. Brightly coloured packaging made the pens especially appealing ____ children.
      7. What does all this refer _____ in the third sentence?

C.   DISCUSSION for reading cooking article

Have you ever cooked any dish with a recipe? Tell class about it.



Take the recipe in part C. Discussion as example. Build a recipe with ingredients and instructions. Then present it in front of the class. Pay more attention to your country traditional food.

Student handout: Download here

Teacher handout (answer key): will be available early next week.

Coconut rice recipe:

Vocabulary building on Cooking:

View more reading cooking articles on

Leave a Reply