Sweet and soft flavor of Ca Mau bummalo

Ca Mau is a southernmost land of Vietnam. It is bounded by the sea in three sides and the only place on the mainland where we can see the sunrise from the east and the sunset in the west. With its special geographic location, Ca Mau has rich and diversified fishery resources such as shrimps, crabs, fishes, etc. In particular, bummalo is one of popular fishes in Ca Mau. Previously, upon landfall of the fishing boats, fresh bummalos are sold everywhere. Now, a wild dish of coastal people has become a speciality.

Bummalo mainly lives in the sea, sometimes we can see them in the estuary next to the sea. In Ca Mau, bummalo is abundant in Cai Doi Vam town, Phu Tan district. At present, bummalo has been certified as the collective trademark “Cai Doi Vam – Ca Mau bummalo” by the National Office of Intellectual Property under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Bummalo has a long flat tubular opaque white body, a big head, small eyes and a wide mouth with hard teeth. It has less bones, only one cartilage along the back. Its meat is very soft, sweet and fragrant. It is also called porridge fish. Because it is verry difficult for bummalo to keep fresh in a long time, people think of how to fry it.

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Bombay duck (dried bummalo) has become a famous specialty of Cai Doi Vam town. The main season for bombay duck production usually starts in November and until early April in the next year (Lunar calendar).  Bummalo is disembowel and pulled out intestine, cleansed. Then the jaws of two fishes are hooked together and put across the poles to dry in the sunshine. At this time, we will see the image of each dried bummalo platform in the sunshine in the sea region full of sunlight and wind.

Nothing is better than bombay duck grilled on the charcoal stove. After being grilled, beat it evenly for soft fishmeat. This dish is eaten with tamarind fish sauce or fish sauce with vinegar and chili depending on the taste of each person. The sweetness of the bummalo and sourness and spicy of the sauce is an unforgettable great taste.

Many people also processed dried bummalo into raw bummalo. Mango or ambarella is peeled, minced and then cut, then add a little of high-qualitfy fish sauce, sugar, a little of broth mix and grilled bummalo. Add chilli, Vietnamese mint, aromatic herbs to increase the attractiveness.

In addition to drying, fresh bummalo can be processed into various dishes such as hotpot, porridge, fried bummalo with flour, etc.  Each dish has its own flavor but all contain the specific features of honest sea people. Therefore, when you and your family have the opportunity to come to Ca Mau Cape, enjoy the delicious dishes from bummalo or buy them as gifts for colleagues and relatives after the journey to explore this southernmost land of the country!

Article and Photo: Kieu Trang

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