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Taste of Phu Yen Sea

Wed, 03 Sep 2014 . Last updated Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:48

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Referring to Phu Yen, people always think about specialties as tuna, O Loan blood oyster and Song Cau crab. This is also the favorite dishes in many Asian countries. It would really miss when you come to this province without enjoying these dishes.

Located in nearly 200 kilometers long coastline of the Central Vietnam, Phu Yen province is renowned for so many delicious specialties. In this program today, we are together to discover the diverse dishes of the bay, lagoon and the sea of Phu Yen. And today, we have a special guest, Patrick Deffein a chef coming from Nha Trang.  

Patrick Deffein comes from Bretagne, a beautiful coastal city in France. In 2005, he came to Nha Trang to work and his story about Vietnam began. He loves this beautiful city and the decided to stay here. With the passion of cuisine, he opens his own restaurant in Nha Trang to start new food adventure. 

At 9a.m, at the fishing port ward 6 in Tuy Hoa city of Phu Yen province, Huynh Van Thanh, a local fisherman has returned home after a long fishing trip. His workers are unloading a special cargo, yellow fin tuna.

On this trip, Thanh caught only 14 tunas, so he has suffered anymore. As one of the first tuna catching in Vietnam, Phu Yen leads nationwide productivity and export turnover of tuna. Tuna is not only in Phu Yen but it is abundant in so many central provinces of Vietnam. But only in Phu Yen, tuna is considered as the local specialty, maybe because the local people have many different ways of processing and enjoying this dish. 

Phu Yen is renowned for its tuna, which is transformed in local specialties such as sushi or dried tuna mouth. There are many kinds of tuna dishes but Phu Yen people prefer sushi and steamed tuna-eye. I often give the tuna-eye dish to my friends from other cities and provinces.

 It is a long process to make steamed tuna-eye dish. After being separated from tunas, these eyes are embalmed and carefully preserved in the refrigerator. The spices include variety of traditional medicines, citronella, pepper and chili. The tuna-eye dish is steamed in an earthenware pot for half an hour, and then the eye-dish is ready to serve.  

We have kept the dish warm to avoid the fishy smell, so we have to wait for the alcohol to burn off. After burning the alcohol, put perilla into the bowl. This is a traditional specialty in Phu Yen. We put traditional medicine into this dish instead of other kinds of herbs, because the traditional medicine reduces the fishy smell.

Now I understand why this dish fascinates so many people. Its smell is very great. Actually, there are many traditional medicines we put into the dish, but when enjoying the typical flavor of fish is good. The tuna meat is a popular delicacy having the high nutritional value. It can be cooked variety of dishes such as fresh tuna served with mustard, crisp fried tuna breast, tuna stomach fried and many other dishes. Each dish has its own taste and is the typical cuisine of Phu Yen. Tuna meat is not only delicious but also nutritious; it is also loved all over the world. Also tuna meat is exported to many different countries and brings huge economic value. But if you have a chance to visit Phu Yen province, you should not ignore the opportunity to enjoy this specialty.

The central coast province of Phu Yen is located in the middle of Cu Mong and Ca passes. Thanks to special topography, Phu Yen has many lagoons, bays and lakes. We are on the way to O Loan lagoon, Tuy An district, Phu Yen province. This is one of the famous place of Phu Yen province having many rare seafood as shrimps, crabs, oysters…

The place we are going to arrive now is known as oyster farmer. There are about 100-200 households that farm oysters and cockles around the O Loan lagoon. Blood cockle is one of the most famous aqua produce in O Loan lagoon. Now I and Mr. Patrick will follow Mr. Hay to go catch oysters and cockles.

Nguyen Van Hay has been catching oysters and cockles in O Loan Lagoon for over 3 years. Mr. Hay said that the cockle season here lasts from March to August in the lunar year. We all know the time when the blood cockles breed and the peak season to catch them. Using his own experience, Mr. Hay took us to a place where local people often catch blood cockles.

Besides blood oysters, O Loan lagoon is famous for oysters. The local people here catch oysters all year round, but Hay told me that the blooming season of oyster is at the end of the fourth lunar month.

Although this exploit is not very effective, but more and more people doing this work and dress in oyster growing significantly reduced.

The traditional method of the local residents involve diving, feeling and picking up oysters. Although this method does not have high effect, increasing people do this work and the numbers of oysters in O Loan lagoon reduce significantly. We only find about 1 kilo of oyster and half of kilo blood cockles after the long morning. We decided to have the meal right here on the beach. You can see the huge contrast between the oyster and its shell. The shell looks like a rock, but the oyster inside in contrast, it is very soft and delicious.

We have been learned how to open the oysters without breaking the shell. It is not easy. We grilled blood cockles while Mr. Hay cooked his special dish – Oyster gruel. Hay says that local people here often enjoy this dish at any time of the day as breakfast, lunch or between meals. Our French chef is showing cooking skill with O Loan oysters. This is the first time Patrick has to cook without his professional kitchen utensils. However, his result is quite amazing.

From O Loan lagoon, we travel to the North about 30 kilometers along National Highway 1A to reach Song Cau town which is famous for Xuan Dai bay. Xuan Dai Bay has been recognized by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism as the National Landscape site and been proposed as the member of the world beautiful bay club. Besides the spectacular scenery, Xuan Dai bay is also famous for abundant seafood. Today, we are following Nguyen Thanh Son, a fisherman from Dan Phuoc village. Every day he goes fishing in Xuan Dai bay on his small boat.

Now we will put the trap into the water. It is important to remember that for each 5 to 6 meters we have to put in one trap. Mr. Son told me that I should put the trap in a straight line so that it is easier to collect afterwards.

 While Mr. Son and I prepare to cook the crabs, Patrick is dealing with the fishes. With the whole basket of fresh seafood, there is no quicker to cook them than boiling them to keep their fresh and sweet taste. There is nothing more interesting thing than sitting on the boat, contemplating the beautiful scenery and enjoying the taste of delicious seafood. Today, Patrick and I are really lucky when having chance to follow Son to catch crabs, shrimps and so many other seafood.


Source: VTV4 –

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