Kien Giang province in Mekong Delta is well-known for beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc Island – one of the top destinations in Vietnam. Besides the perfect beaches, Kien Giang has numerous food specialties which could not be missed on any trip to the province. Many dishes from seafood including salads, rice noodle soups, Bitter bolete, Fermented lingula anatina are worth trying in Kien Giang. Here is a list of 12 Food Specialties of Kien Giang.
To make this salad, mix sardinella flesh, shredded onions, shallots, chili pepper, and shredded coconut meat. To make the dipping sauce for this salad, mix high-quality fish sauce made in Phu Quoc, sugar, lime juice, minced garlic, minced chili pepper, crushed toasted peanuts. This kind of salad is topped with crushed toasted peanuts, green onion oil, deep-fried shallots and served with various vegetables (bean sprouts, salad, greens, cucumber, some wild vegetables in forests in Phu Quoc, etc.), herbs (culantra, heartleaf, Vietnamese mint, basil, etc.), rice paper and dipping sauce. To eat, just wrap the salad, veggies, and herbs in rice paper, then dip in the sauce and tuck in. Dinner can feel the amazing blend of fresh, tender, little chewy sardinella pieces, veggies, herbs, and dipping sauce in every bite.
Phu Quoc Barracuda is a specialty food of the beautiful island Phu Quoc as well as the entire province Kien Giang. This kind of fish is long, thin, round, firm, grey and golden. Young Barracuda weighs 700 – 800 grams, old Barracuda weighs 8 – 9 kilograms. Barracuda flesh is outstandingly tasty, especially flesh of fresh Barracuda caught in Phu Quoc. The fish flesh is rich in nutrition and very healthy. From this fish, local people make a lot of delicious dishes such as Grilled Barracuda on charcoal, Grilled Barracuda with green chili pepper, Sweet and sour soup with Barracuda, Braised Barracuda with fermented greens, Barracuda cake, Barracuda salad, Braised Barracuda with turmeric, Dried Barracuda, etc. Followings are the most popular dishes from Phu Quoc Barracuda.
Main ingredients for Fried rice with ocean crab (Com chien ghe) are rice, ocean crab, egg, veggies (tomato, cucumber, coriander), fish sauce. To cook Fried rice with ocean crab, choose alive ocean crabs, prepare and boil them, get the flesh out of the shells and shred them into small pieces. Then stir-fry steamed rice, the ocean crab flesh, thinly sliced onion, egg, cubed carrot, chopped green onion.
Phu Quoc fried rice with ocean crab is decorated with chili pepper flowers and coriander. It is served with vegetables including cucumber, tomato, and coriander and sweet-sour fish sauce dip. The dish looks colorful with yellow rice seeds, white and orange ocean crab flesh, red chili pepper, green veggies, reddish-brown fish sauce dip. A portion of fried rice with ocean crab is served as a meal which can fulfill your empty stomach, satisfy your taste, provide energy, vitamins, and minerals.
Triangular prism glutinous rice cake with finger palm (Banh tet mat cat) in Phu Quoc is triangular prism-shaped and wrapped in finger palm leaves. Finger palm leaf enhances the flavor of the crust and makes it different from others of its kind. Finger palm leaf is not as wide as banana leaf or Phrynium placentarium leaf so that it needs skillfulness and experience to wrap the cake.
Made from glutinous rice and katuk leaf juice, the crust is green, greasy and sweet-tasty exclusively. The buttery and tender filling is made from mung bean paste and pork belly. To eat, cut the cake into reuleaux triangles, peel off the wrap, then eat with your fingers or spoon, chopsticks. The perfect mix of the sticky crust and the tender, buttery filling of the cake satisfy most of the people.
Bitter bolete is rich in nutrition and tasty so that it is used as a favorite ingredient to cook a wide range of flavorful dishes. The harvesting season of bitter bolete is from March to April in the lunar calendar. Bitter bolete has a bitter taste so that it needs to be prepared before cooking. Raw bitter bolete should be washed, soaked in salt water, boiled for a few times, wash again with cold water. Now the fungus is less bitter and ready for cooking. Some local people like the bitter taste of the fungus so that they only boil it once. They also freeze the fungus or dry it to store for a long time. Bitter bolete can be used to cook porridge, soups with chicken or seafood or sweet potato leaf, stir-fried, etc.
Soup cake (Banh canh) is a Vietnamese traditional rice noodle soup which has won the heart of all ages. The comfort, flavorful and healthy soup cake is served hot as a meal which can fulfill your stomach. Soup cake with ocean crab and fish cake is one of must-try dish in Phu Quoc island, Kien Giang province. A bowl of Soup cake with ocean crab and fish cake consists of rice noodles, broth, toppings, vegetables, herbs, and dip.
Rice noodles of soup cake are thicker and shorter than rice noodles of other kinds of Vietnamese rice noodle soups. The broth of this dish is cooked from pork bone, dried shrimp, mackerel head. Not similar to the others, the broth of Soup cake with ocean crab is not clear but a little gelatinous. Topped with a whole ocean crab which has firm, tasty and smelling flesh, a bowl of Soup cake with ocean crab in Phu Quoc impresses diner at the first look. A dip from salt and green pepper is a must to be served with this rice noodle soup.
There is one kind of savory steamed glutinous rice (Xoi man) which is simply topped with ground dried shrimp. There are two kinds of sweet Steamed glutinous rice: steamed glutinous rice with mango (Xoi xoai) and Steamed glutinous rice with egg (Xoi hot ga). In Ha Tien, they steam high-quality glutinous rice until pleasant and sticky. Xoi xoai is topped with mung bean and mango. Steamed glutinous rice with egg is topped with a yellow, viscous, sweet, and fragrant steamed glutinous rice with the sauce made from egg white, durian flesh, rice flour and sugar and stir-fried shredded coconut meat with palm sugar.
The dish consists of the broth cooked from various freshwater fishes and fish bones, rice noodles, toppings (fish flesh, wild shrimp), vegetables, and herbs. Freshwater fishes caught in rice fields, lakes, ponds, swamps are used to cook this dish. Choosing fresh fishes is the most important step in cooking this kind of dish. Big and plumpy snakeheads which have sweet-tasty, tender but chewy, and very smelling are chosen. Boil snakeheads, separate the flesh and bones. The flesh is used to top the dish. The bones are ground, put into a cloth bag and used to cook the broth with other kinds of fishes which are smaller than snakehead. Cooked from fresh freshwater fishes, the broth is smooth, rich and very fragrant.
Rach Gia rice noodle soup with fish is topped with white snakehead flesh, yellow, buttery fish egg or steamed ground fresh shrimp and egg yolk, orange stir-fried peeled wild shrimp, and herbs, usually coriander and green onion. The dish is served with vegetables (shredded banana blossom), lime wedge, chili pepper (minced, sliced or whole).
Bun ken restaurants and stalls are everywhere in Ha Tien. According to local people, the rice noodle soup is a favorite dish of Khmer people in Ha Tien. Khmer people call dishes which are cooked from coconut milk “ken”, so that the name “Bun ken” comes from the word “ken” in Khmer language. In Vietnamese “ken” means trumpet. So that we call this dish Trumpet rice noodle soup in English.
The rice noodle soup is served as a meal, it consists of rice noodles, broth, dried shrimp as topping, vegetables and herbs, dipping sauce.
The broth which is cooked from fishes is the soul of the dish. Ha Tien people choose sea water fishes such as Barracuda to cook the broth. Grind the fish flesh, stir-fry it with lemongrass, chili pepper, turmeric powder or turmeric juice. Then cook the stir-fried fish flesh in second and third extract coconut milk, seasoning the broth with spices (sugar, salt). While fish sauce is used to seasoning most of the broths for other Vietnamese rice noodle soups, the fish sauce must not be used to cook the broth for Bun ken. When the fish is well-done, turn off the heat, add first coconut milk and annatto oil. The greasy, sweet-tasty broth is ready to be served. The yellow color and special taste and smell of the broth come from turmeric. Annatto oil makes the broth more attractive. Coconut milk makes the dish greasy and sweet. What a perfect mix of all ingredients!
To serve, pour the hot broth into the bowl with some rice noodles, the broth must cover the noodles. Top the dish with dried shrimp. Aromatic herbs, vegetables including shredded green papaya, crunchy, juicy bean sprouts, and delicious fish sauce for dipping are also served with the dish. Lime wedges and chili pepper slices are available at the table so that diners can add sour and hot tastes to the dish at their wishes.
Anadara subcrenata is a kind of clam which is a favorite food in Vietnam. Salad with banana blossom and Anadara subcrenata is a specialty food of Kien Giang province. To make the salad, mix Anadara subcrenata meat, thinly sliced boiled pork belly, shredded banana blossom with a dressing made from fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chili pepper. The dish is topped with some crushed peanuts and served with chopped Vietnamese mint and pickled onion slices. When eating, diners can feel the crunchy banana blossom, the tender but crunchy clam meat, the fatty pork belly, sweet and sour pickled onion, the crunchy peanuts, and Vietnamese mint which has a strong mint flavor.
One of the most famous food specialties is Fermented lingula anatina which travelers should not miss. Lingula anatina has the shell which consists of 2 valves and 1 long tender tail. It looks scary so that not many travelers know that this species could be eaten. After harvesting, lingula anatina is washed, the tails are removed. Then arrange lingula anatina and salt/refined salt in layers in a jar.
Ferment lingula anatina can be stored for a long time. It is better to ferment lingula anatina with salt in the morning and stir-fry the fermented lingula anatina in the evening on the same day when the lingula anatina meat is still fresh and not very salty. Just stir-fry fermented lingula anatina with garlic, sugar and black pepper. To eat, get the meat from the shell and eat with steamed rice.
Originated in Cambodia, Steamed clear rice noodle recipe has been changed to meet the local taste and products in Ha Tien. Dry clear rice noodles are steamed until tender but a little chewy. To serve, put some julienned cucumber, bean sprouts at the bottom of a bowl, then put steamed clear rice noodles onto the veggies, top the noodles with grilled pork, pork skin strips, spring rolls, herbs, crushed peanuts, pickled carrots and daikons, chopped chili pepper (optional). Pour coconut milk sauce onto toppings. If diners don’t like the greasiness of coconut milk sauce, they can ask for sweet-sour fish sauce dip to eat with the dish.