01/19/2013

Bizarre Culinary Treats from Central Vietnam

If you think you have seen, and tasted, the many interesting must-tastes around Vietnam, think twice. Central Vietnam have some quite unusual culinary treats that will take you by surprise and bring your Vietnamese food affair to a different level.

Ever heard of fermented fish intestine and fermented squid? Its names might make you want to step aback from trying them out, but for many who did went ahead and tasted them, actually find them delicious.

There are certain kinds of fishes that are handpicked for this special preparation, those said to have delicious intestines. Triggerfish or Tuna are common choices. In Binh Dinh Province, the intestines are made into a special tasty paste. To make it, large and fresh intestines are taken out from the fish. Using a sharp knife, make a delicate cut to drain the viscous substance inside. The gall bladder is removed to prevent the paste from tasting bitter.

They are then cut it into small pieces and placed in a container or glass jar. A portion of salt is added for every two portions of intestine. The jar is tightly covered and placed under the sun for three to seven days. Both time and heat causes the intestines to shrink and become pasty.

Fifteen days later, after soaking up the salt, it produces a dark liquid. It takes around another two to three months to get the extract, which no longer smells fishy. The intestines and then discarded. Only the thick sauce is utilized. Putting it over low heat, and adding chopped garlic and oil and chopped garlic further improves its flavor.  Others prefer to add chili to make it spicier. Locals eat it with hot rice, vermicelli, bánh hỏi (fine rice vermicelli), or bánh cuốn (steamed rice rolls).

Fermented squid

Made in a similar manner, cuttlefish paste is another unusual yet delicious treat in Quang Ngai Province. Fresh, firm flesh is always best used. They are washed but not cleaned out of its intestines. One bowl of salt is added to every three bowls of the intestine. They are mixed well and stored in a container. It ferments and because of the internal ink bag, it produces a black color. Locals prefer not to throw away the bag since it brings a unique flavor.

The fermented squid can be eaten raw. As its texture is somewhat tough, people often chop them into small pieces and served with chopped ginger, chili, and garlic. Adding some chopped pineapple to it brings a more delightful kick. Many prefer to eat it with hot rice and herbs and vegetables. Others mix it with pork belly, some extra seasoning and cooked over low heat. Braise until the meat soaks much of the paste and the latter turns thicker.

If you’re a foodie or an adventurous traveler looking for some tantalizing new ethnic dish to try, these bizarre culinary treats from Central Vietnam might delight you.