Living in rice fields, rivers, channels, eel is a popular food in Mekong Delta region of Vietnam due to less bone, tender, a little chewy, tasty meat and rich nutrient. Although there are dozens of eel recipes, Braised eel with buffalo spinach (Luon om rau ngo) is a very famous specialty food of Ca Mau province. It’s effective in curing at the dead – end flatulence, urine retention, haematuria haemorrhage due to heat, rapidly wound hemostasis, inflammation. The easy to find, healthy, typically smelling and bitter-tasty buffalo spinach goes well with eel.
Ingredients for Luon om rau ngo are eel, buffalo spinach, turmeric powder, peanuts, herbs, coconut milk. The first step is preparing eel which has mucus skin. People in Mekong Delta people usually use wood ash or a mix of water and vinegar to remove the mucus and odor of the eel, then remove the guts, cut the eel into about 5-cm chunks.
Put a layer of buffalo spinach at the bottom of a pot, then put prepared eel onto the vegetable, pour coconut milk into the pot, add turmeric powder, spices, and green onion. The eel chunks are arranged into circle skillfully. The coconut milk should cover the spinach and the eel. Leave for 15-20 minutes before cooking. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. The lid should be closed during braising. Top the dish with herbs and crushed toasted peanuts. The greasy, a little bitter broth plays off the tender, a little chewy eel and refreshing, a little crunchy, bitter buffalo spinach chunks make a great dish ever.
This amazing dish could not perfect if dipping sauce is missed. The special viscous, greasy, smelling, sweet, salty and hot sauce to eat with Braised eel with buffalo spinach is made from coconut milk, fermented soybeans, lemongrass, chili pepper. Luon om rau ngo is served with steamed rice of rice noodles and the dipping sauce. This dish can fill and warm your stomach after a hard working day or on your long journey in Mekong Delta. What an outstanding dish from simple and familiar ingredients.
Read more about other Specialty foods of Ca Mau.