In southernmost Vietnam, mangrove forests foster a special cuisine

By Khuong Nha   October 26, 2019 | 05:00 pm GMT+7

Vietnam’s southernmost province of Ca Mau boasts a cuisine based on seafood specialties made possible by its extensive mangrove ecosystem.

Ca Mau crabs live in a mangrove ecosystem with an abundant food source that has made their meat delicious, firm, and flavorful versus farm-grown crabs. Natural crabs often have firm dark shells. The meat is cooked in many ways from steaming and grilling to more diverse ways, such as roasting it with tamarind, or boiling or stewing it.

Ca Mau crabs taste very different from the farm-bred variety. These crabs thrive in a mangrove ecosystem with an abundant food source, making their meat firm, delicious and flavorful. They are boiled, stewed, steamed, grilled or roasted with tamarind for an array of delicious dishes.

The mudskipper, which resembles a frog, is a specialty of Ca Mau. The fish live in the swamp and can live underwater and on land. It can jump onto mangrove trunks. It is often grilled with salt, fried or served as a staple of sour flavor soup. It also makes a great stew.

The mudskipper, which locals say resembles a frog, is another specialty of Ca Mau. The fish live in swampy conditions, can cling to mangrove trunks and is virtually amphibious. It is grilled with salt, fried or used as the main ingredient in a sour soup. It also makes for a great stew.

Horn shell, also known as the mud creeper are commonly found in mangrove forests. The snails are not farmed and live on tree trunks and feed on algae or organic detritus. There are many ways to cook it but the most encaptivating version, which you can find in almost every seafood menu in Vietnam, is stir-fried horn shell with coconut. To get rid of the slime on its shell, it must be soaked in rice water for one to two hours before being stirred with oil. When the meat is cooked, its red color turns into an eye-catching turquoise color. The chefs often cut off the tail so visitors can suck the meat from the bottom without the need for a tool to pluck the meat out.

The horn shell, also known as the mud creeper, are commonly found in mangrove forests. These are found on tree trunks, feeding on algae or organic detritus.

To get rid of the slime on its shell, it must be soaked in rice water for one to two hours before being stirred with oil. When the meat is cooked, its red color turns into an eye-catching turquoise color. The chefs often cut off the tail so visitors can suck the meat from the bottom without the need for a tool to pluck the meat out.

This crustacean is also cooked in many ways, but one of the best horn shell dishes is a stir-fry with coconut.

Grilled Geloina coaxans is a signature dish of Ca Mau. This shellfish is shaped like a clam but larger in size and often lives in mudflats, estuaries and mangroves. The shellfish is also found elsewhere in Vietnam, and lives in Ca Mau’s mangrove, which has made its  meat crunchy and sweeter than others. After being washed, it can be steamed, grilled with onions or turned into a sour soup.

Grilled geloina shellfish (Geloina coaxans) is a signature dish of Ca Mau. This shellfish is shaped like a clam but larger in size and often lives in mudflats, estuaries and mangroves.

The ones found in Ca Mau’s mangroves have a crunchier, sweeter meat, locals claim. It can also be steamed, grilled with onions or be part of a sour soup.

Ca Mau, the capital of Ca Mau Province, covers the southern tip of the Mekong Delta. The town, 360 km southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, has several tourism attractions including some wild bird parks, the southernmost point in Vietnam, called Mui Ca Mau, and a number of Khmer pagodas. Near Ca Mau is the U Minh area with its famous mangrove forest and swamp cuisine: fish hot pots, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Khmer cuisine. 

Bullrush, also known as cattail, is a grass-like plant that grows in wet locations like ponds, marshes and lakes. Found on the edge of lagoons and ponds in Ca Mau, it is also a local specialty, mostly made into a pickle and then cooked with other ingredients. The inside of its stem is white, soft, crispy and sweetish.

Ca Mau Town, the capital of Ca Mau Province, is 360 km southwest of Ho Chi Minh City. It has several tourism attractions including some wild bird parks, the southernmost tip of Vietnam, called Mui Ca Mau, and a number of Khmer pagodas.

Near Ca Mau is the U Minh area with its famous mangrove forest and swamp fed cuisine. Fish hot pots, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Khmer dishes can be enjoyed here. 

The Ca Mau Bird Park might be one of the best places for watching tropical birds.


 
 
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