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A unique flavor

Phu Quoc is an island of culinary exploits, boasting numerous specialties that cause visitors to salivate. One of the most favored dishes is raw herring.

As Vietnam’s largest island covering an area of nearly 600 square km, Phu Quoc is bestowed with abundant and valuable the a point if cultural convergence, as its residents hail from Vietnam, Kampuchea, and China. Most of the immigrants are from Quang Ngai province. This multi-cultureless result in an original flavor of Phu Quoc people, but especially regarding their culinary culture.

Dishes in Phu Quoc often carry central Vietnam’s flavors, the savory taste of Chinese cuisine, or the sweet overtones known to Khmer food. Of the many delicious dishes on the island, raw herring is particularly unique. The key ingredient is the fresh herring. In comparison with other kinds of herring available in Vietnam, Phu Quoc herring has firmer, more delicious meat with a higher level of protein.

Raw herring is prepared rather simply. The fish is cleaned and decaled. Then its belly is cut and the fillets on either side are removed. The meat is doused in lemon juice to evaporate. The rice papers used to roll the raw fish are soaked in young coconut milk, which yields a sweet fragrance and keeps the papers soft enough to roll easily.

The dipping sauce has the pungent flavor of Phu Quoc’s famous fish sauce, which is mixed with peeled peanuts, sour shrimp, ground garlic and pepper. Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, pineapple, coconut meat, lettuce, and mint leaves are rolled together in the rice paper with one or two slices of raw herring. The roll is dipped into the sauce, and then eaten. All these ingredients create a delicious dish with the peculiar blended taste: the fresh herring, the aroma of the fish sauce, the buttery taste of peeled peanuts and Phu Quoc coconut.

Visiting Phu Quoc, your taste buds will undoubtedly be bombarded with the endless island delicacies. But you should not miss the chance to raw herring, as this dish is unlike any others in Vietnam. It is an example of true fusion and, in that, a beautiful trait of Vietnam’s culinary culture.

This article written by Lanh Nguyen from Vietnam Heritage Travel
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