Fish soup with Siamese mud carp and common sesban (Lẩu cá Linh bông Điên Điển)

Unique Yummy Food in Vietnam Mekong Delta during Flood Season

Food in Vietnam Mekong Delta all seasons makes foodies hard to forget the sweet and succulent tastes. Especially, the dishes during the flood season remain so unique and yummy that calls for guests’ attention and actual visit between August and November. The culinary options of the sweet fish soup, fragrant grilled field mice, distinctive pancake with common sesban, etc. The local delicacies of the flood season in Mekong Delta makes the land more appealing to foodies than ever.

#1: Fish soup with Siamese mud carp and common sesban (Lau Ca Linh Bong Dien Dien)

During the flood stage in Vietnam Mekong Delta, Siamese mud carp (or Henicorhynchus siamensis) and common sesban (or Egyptan rarrlepod) are the two special ingredients combined to create an appetizing fish soup. Particularly from September to October, the fish has the most delicious and sweetest quality (almost without fishbone). Meanwhile, the common sesban is in its blossoming season which is yellow wild and savory. This soup offers a variety of tastes like the sweet fish, aromatic and scrumptious common sesban, well-spiced fish sauce with chili, etc., resulting in the extraordinary Mekong Delta food that no other place has.

#2: Field mice grilled in the terracotta jar (Chuot Dong Nuong Lu)

Many people are afraid of what is called the grilled mice food, but for the Mekong Delta people, this is a matchless and yummy feast. In particular, the field mice only eat the ripe rice in the fields, which gives them the somehow greasy and delicious meat which is best for grilling in the terracotta jar. After the field mice are processed to be clean and then spiced with seasonings, they will be grilled in the jar for 1 hour.

It might require skill and experience to grill the mice in this way. People have to manually grill the mice in a period, add fat and seasoning sauce. After around 1 hour, the mice turn yellow, fragrant, and soft with crunchy skin. This is a perfect option for local men to eat with fresh vegetables. And of course, they never forget to enjoy this exotic food in Vietnam with rice wine.

Field mice grilled in the terracotta jar (Chuột Đồng Nướng Lu)
Field mice grilled in the terracotta jar (Chuột Đồng Nướng Lu)

#3: Snakehead skewered by the bamboo stick and grilled in straw (Ca Loc Nuong Trui)

The snakehead shows up a lot during the flood season, and besides being the perfect ingredient for making soups, this fish is very delicious after being grilled in a folksy countryside style. Once the fish has been processed with the clean intestine, it should be skewered in a bamboo stick. That stick will be fixed in the soil surface and covered by straw for grilling. The difficulty lies in the experience not to let the fish not-fully-cook or overcook. In that sense, people need to use an appropriate amount of straw. Too little straw will cause the fish raw and fishy while too much straw will make it burned and bitter.

The most delicious fish is just medium (neither rare nor well-done). It’s often served with fresh vegetables, rice paper, cucumber, star fruit, green banana, and mandarin fish sauce. The completion will make you mouth-watering due to smell, look, and feel.

Snakehead skewered by the bamboo stick and grilled in straw (Có Lóc Nướng Trui)
Snakehead skewered by the bamboo stick and grilled in straw (Có Lóc Nướng Trui), the rustic food in Vietnam

#4: Fish stew with water lily (Bong Sung Mam Kho)

Not only does water lily attract eyes for the beauty, but it is also delicious to be a great cooking ingredient. In the flood stage, water lily in Mekong Delta appears on the water surface and show off its charm. Then the locals find the ways to peel out the cover and cut it into short pieces. The fish sauce is usually made from Henicorhynchus siamensis or Siamese mud carp (Ca Linh). It needs to hard boil the fish sauce, filter, and remove the fishbone. After that, they add the minced citronella, mini shrimp, mussel, or snakehead in the right time when the sauce begins boiling again. The fish stew is absolutely yummy mixed with various flavors: the spicy chili, mint citronella, sweet mini shrimp, and crunchy taste of the water lily.

Fish stew with water lily (Bông Súng Mắm Kho)
Fish stew with water lily (Bông Súng Mắm Kho)

#5: Pancake with common sesban (Banh Xeo Bong Dien Dien)

The Vietnamese southern pancake is distinctive and most delectable during the flood time when there is an additional luscious ingredient for the filling: the common sesban. While the pancake is made from the finest rice flour mixed with turmeric powder and coconut milk, the fillings are savory with slices of pork and shrimp spiced with the luscious common sesban. This food represents a perfect harmony of various flavors: the spicy-and-sour fish sauce, the sweet shrimp and pork, the crunchy pancake cover, and the succulent common sesban. The cake is often served with raw vegetables and herbs.

Pancake with common sesban (Bánh Xèo Bông Điên Điển)
Pancake with common sesban (Bánh Xèo Bông Điên Điển)

#6: Salad with Neem tree leaves and snakeskin gourami fish (Goi Sau Dau Ca Sac)

This is Cambodia’s original food which is then imported to the bordering provinces of An Giang, Kien Giang, etc., and many other families in Vietnam Mekong Delta. The flowers and young leaves of the Neem tree will be used to make salads. They have the bitter taste and remedial effect. Often, the salad will also include the small pieces of the dried snakeskin gourami fish (Ca Sac), the boiled bacon slices, cucumber, and chili. All ingredients are mixed and soaked by the sweet-and-sour mandarin fish sauce. It is the harmonious flavor of “sour, spicy, bitter, salty, and sweet” that makes this food delectable and hard to resist.

Salad with Neem tree leaves and snakeskin gourami fish (Gỏi Sầu Đâu Cá Sặc)
Salad with Neem tree leaves and snakeskin gourami fish (Gỏi Sầu Đâu Cá Sặc)

#7: The salted fiddler crab (Ba Khia Muoi)

The fiddler crab is a familiar image to people in the Vietnam Mekong Delta, and local family meals often have the salted fiddler crab food, especially during the wet season. In particular, “Ba Khia Muoi” is the famous delicacy of Bac Lieu Province. People will mix the crab meat with garlic, chili, sugar, lemon, and vinegar for around 30 minutes for the mixture to be soaked. The succulently spiced food is best served with the plain rice that promotes the flavors of sweet sugar, sour lemon, spicy chili, and delicious crabmeat.

The salted fiddler crab (Ba Khía Muối)
The salted fiddler crab (Ba Khía Muối)

So if you travel to Vietnam Mekong Delta in the flood season, add these food names to your list of the musts to eat. Together with the fascinating photography, this happy travel treats your belly in a delightful way.

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