Giant mudskipper (Ca thoi loi, Thoi loi) is listed as one of six strangest animal species in the world for its prominent eyes. Ca Mau province in Mekong Delta region of Vietnam is famous for giant mudskipper which has become a favorite food of many people. It can grow to a length of 27 centimeters, occurs in marine, brackish and fresh waters. It is most frequently found along muddy shores in estuaries as well as in the tidal zones of rivers. It lives in a burrow in the mud and emerges from the burrow at low tide on sunny days. It can move quickly across a muddy surface and is capable of breathing both in and out of the water. It can also climb trees. Giant mudskipper eats fiddler crabs, shrimp, and smaller fishes.
In Vietnam, they catch giant mudskippers in three ways. The first way: catch a worm, remove its guts, use a coconut leaf to tie the worm into a 2-m bamboo stick; prepare a big bucket with some ash; lure the fish to bite the worm and skillfully move the stick so that the fish is dropped into the bucket. The second way is catching the mudskipper from its cave by hand. The third way is trapping the mudskippers with a conical trap made from water coconut leaves.
Due to moving continuously, giant mudskipper flesh is very firm and tasty. This kind of fish is a common food for meals in Ca Mau. There are not less than 10 giant mudskipper recipes: Braised giant mudskipper with ground black pepper (Thoi loi kho tieu), Deep-fried giant mudskipper (Thoi loi chien), Sweet and sour soup with giant mudskipper and fermented steamed rice (Lau mam thoi loi), Grilled giant mudskipper with salt and chili pepper (Thoi loi nuong tieu). They also make dry giant mudskipper (Kho thoi loi) which could be fried or grilled, then dipped in tamarind fish sauce. Dry giant mudskipper is one of the most popular gifts to bring home from Ca Mau.
Read more about other Specialty foods of Ca Mau