Ca Mau fish sauce – Contributed to affirm the brand name of tourism destination

Mentioning Ca Mau, tourists will immediately think of its products such as U Minh Ha honey, Ca Mau sea  crab, Rach Goc dried shrimp, etc. Moreover, fish sauce is also one of the attractive specialties that contribute to affirm the brand name of Ca Mau tourism by the special taste of fish sauce.

Ca Mau’s people who were born and grown up here are attached to paddy fields, gardens and fish ponds. Each home-grown product is a source of food that you cannot live without in your daily life. The land is famous for freshwater fishery with the volume reached 42,175 tons of freshwater fish (2015), among them the most common is the paddy-field fish with a cultivated area of 16,553 hectares (2015). Paddy-field fish of Ca Mau is not only delicious, but also sufficient of high nutritional sources of protein, which is necessary for daily meals of each person.

Every year, the villagers often hold fishing events such as embankment and bailing canal fishing in a large numbers. People choose different fish for different purposes such as relatives or friends, for instant cooking and processing the dishes, dried fish and fish sauce. Fish sauce is a special dish of Ca Mau which appears regularly in each family meal. Fish caught in large quantities, which are left over, people have come up with the idea of intention to fish. People eat that kind of food in a long time, then it became habit and every year, in the fish season, people started to make fish sauce. Referring to Ca Mau fish sauce, we can immediately reckon many fish sauces as snakehead sauce, perch sauce, belontiidae fish sauce and other types of paddy-field fish in U Minh Ha forest. It is said that fish sauce is the culmination of Ca Mau cuisine.

mam loc ca mau 1Fried snake-head fish sauce – Source:

The stages of making fish sauce are complicated. After being washed, fish is salted for a few days after the fish salted well, then fish is cooked with sugar candy rattled on each fish and dumped with bait which is made of roasted rice puree for coloring fish in red. Then put the fish carefully in the jar within 6 months or more, then we can enjoy it. However, the longer the sauce a store, the better its quality is, especially the fish sauce after three years or more can be said to be the best.

Ca Mau fish sauce can be cooked into different dishes, each dish brings a distinct flavor and cannot be confused.

Raw fish

The first dish must be mentioned raw fish sauce. This dish is convenient and fast for busy people who do not have time to cook, they can use their hands to tear the fish and eat right on the spot with cold rice. Or if you want more delicious taste, chop fish, add chili sugar mix with chili and eat with green banana, star fruit, pineapple, etc. This dish that serves with a few liters of rice wine is delicious.

mam loc ca mau 2Raw fish sauce serves with pork side  – Photo : Kim Chuyen

Salted distilled fish sauce

With large fish, especially snake-head fish, they can steam or make distilled fish sauce to keep fish meat when serving meal. The fish normally, right after being caught, it is put into a crockery bowl, pour a little oil, add garlic pepper and then steam within about 20 minutes, it is ready to serve. This is the method to keep the flavor of fresh fish. There is another way that we chop the fish and pork side, add the spices and chili sauce, mix them up and then put a few duck eggs over the sauce, distil the mixture within 30 minutes; the dish can be served with rice and vegetables as stated above.

Fish sauce hotpot

During the cold weather, the taste of the fish sauce hot pot will warm the heart of anyone sitting around the tray with their relatives and friends. It can be said that the fish sauce hot pot seem to contain all the culinary essence of the Southern area. To make a fish sauce hot pot that allure all hearts, the cook requires the choice of ingredients such as fish sauce that smells the best, take fish meat and remove fish bone, choose pork side, paddy-field fish, eel, bitter melon, eggplant, combine with vegetables pumpkin flower, water lily, “so dua” (Fabaceae), water primrose, bitter vegetable, water celery, water spinach, winged bean, etc. The hotpot with fresh coconut water will be more delicious. Travelers who experience community-based tours will have the opportunity to enjoy the smoky hot pot with a glass of rice wine and listen to the melody of “don ca tai tu”.

Fish sauce vermicelli 

mam loc ca mau 3Fish sauce vermicelli  – Photo: Duong Kim Chuyen

Fish sauce vermicelli can be said to be the favorite specialty vermicelli of the people of Ca Mau. The way to cook vermicelli soup is similar to the method of cooking fish sauce hot pot but it is less dense. Fish after being filtered bone, is also put in the soup, add some beaten citronella, put some rhizome whole (spice) after being beaten and fast fried. Cook the mixture until the distinguishing smell of vermicelli becomes good. We put water spinach, bean sprouts, banana bulb, vermicelli into a bowl, add boiled shrimp and some pieces of boiled fish. Pour broth into the mixture to heat it up, add more pork skin, herbs or vegetables and pour broth to drain the bowl. Just put more chili, so we have a bowl of fish sauce vermicelli in the right way. The feeling of sitting and enjoying a bowl of hot fish sauce vermicelli, smelling the delicious aroma, listening to the slurp would be an amazing thing for anyone when he enjoys this vermicelli.

It is just a home-cooked fish dishes, but it raises the heart of people who are faraway from homeland and drag the foot of so many gourmets. It will be very interesting to come to Ca Mau where you can enjoy dishes prepared from fish sauce. Come to Ca Mau to experience it directly!

Article by Duong Kim Chuyen

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