Phu Yen is a coastal province in the South Central Coast of Vietnam. This easternmost province of Vietnam is endowed with various types of seafood which prominently appear in the local restaurants’ cuisine. Among abundant specialties of the province are grilled oysters in O Loan lagoon, steamed tuna eyes in Tuy Hoa city and jellyfish salad in the locality of Nau (xu Nau).
Blood oysters in O Loan Lagoon
The O Loan Lagoon is located by the side of the Highway 1A, just below the Quan Cau pass, about 22km from Tuy Hoa city. From the top of the Quan Cau pass, you can see the ravishing sight of the lagoon, like a phoenix spreading its wings in the air. The O Loan lagoon is famous for rare kinds of birds, golden sands and casuarinas forest along the waterside. However, being an inland situated brackish lagoon, O Loan is especially well-known for blood cockles.
Blood cockles in the O Loan lagoon are always favoured because of their higher nutritious value than others in different regions in Vietnam. Grilled on charcoal until cockle shells open and the medium cooked cockles seep out some fluid, you just take the cockle’s inside, dip in prepared mixture of salt, pepper and lemon juice and eat with some aromatic herbs and grilled rice-paper. A sip of liquor will make the dish much more delicious. You can feel a tasty blend of greasy cockle, hot pepper, savory herbs and spice and strong odour of liquor.
Blood cockles can be boiled, steamed or grilled. Though grilling is an easy and rustic way of preparing cockles, it is the best way to enjoy them. Delicious blood cockle meat can also be used in many other dishes.
However, many tourists prefer sitting on a wherry moving around the lagoon, seeing beautiful sights and watching skillful divers catching cockles while enjoying the tastiest delicious dishes from blood cockles.
Steamed tuna eyes and jellyfish salad
Tuy Hoa city in Phu Yen province is named the tuna capital of Vietnam because it has the largest tuna wharf in the central region and the largest number of tuna fishermen compared with other localities nationwide.
Tuna flesh, well-known for its delicacy and high nutritious value, can be cooked in different ways, such as: raw tuna slice served with mustard sauce, grilled tuna steak, fried tuna breast, tuna rice porridge and so on. Each tuna dish has its own delicacy and marked with typical cuisine of the windy city of Tuy Hoa. However, the list of specialties of Tuy Hoa’s cuisine does not complete without a dish from steamed tuna eyes.
Tuna eyes are so exceptional compared to eyes of other genera of saltwater fish because tuna can see as far as three hundred meters. According to local people’s experience, tuna eyes have special nutritious and medical value especially for those who have poor eyesight or eye diseases.
Tuna eyes of a fist size is rinsed, marinated with onion, garlic, pepper, chilli, herbs, some salt and seasonings for about 15- 20 minutes. And then each eye is put into a small ceramic pot and steamed for half an hour. Tuna eyes permeated with spices and herbs have appealing smell, is so greasy, tasty and savoury. The dish is served with some kinds of local herbs, and is much more delicious if going with some sips of strong rice liquor.
Tuy Hoa is commonly called the locality of Nau (xu Nau). No one knows when and why the city was given that name, however “xu Nau” is considered the calling to show endearment to the city and local people. People visiting xu Nau should not pretermit jellyfish salad, a specialty that captivates the hearts of those who ever try it. Pieces of jellyfish are mixed with local aromatic herbs, coconut meat, roasted peanuts, and fish sauce prepared with chilli, garlic and lemon juice. The salad is served with crispy grilled rice-paper. The cool sweet taste of crunchy jellyfish is blended with the savour of spices and herbs. The savoury and delicious taste remains on your tongue and in your mind for long.
Source: VEN, Thanhnien