White sardine (Cá mai, Ca mai) is a famous fish in Central Vietnam for its sweet-tasty, chewy, crunchy, and smelling flesh. The fish is the main ingredient to make famous dishes in Phan Thiet such as Tha hot pot, White sardine salad.
White sardine salad (Gỏi cá mai, Goi ca mai) is a distinctively delicious dish which could not be missed on your trip to Phan Thiet – Mui Ne, Nha Trang city, Ninh Thuan province. To make the salad, choose alive white sardines which are just caught, separate the flesh from the bones. The flesh is mixed with lime juice, spices, Vietnamese mint, Thai basil. The dish is topped with crushed peanuts, toasted sesame, herbs and chili pepper.
The viscous dipping sauce which makes the dish different from other dishes. The sauce is made from tamarind, ripe banana, garlic, chili pepper, toasted sesame. The sauce has typical taste and smell which make the salad more attractive.
When eating, diner wraps the salad, vegetables (star-fruit, green banana, cucumber, salad, etc.) in rice paper and dip in the sauce. Some people prefer to eat the salad with crispy Grilled girdle rice cake (Bánh tráng nướng). The salad is a wonderful blend of all ingredients: fresh white sardine flesh, crunchy peanuts, aromatic herbs, juicy star-fruit, crunchy and sticky green banana, sticky rice paper, etc. The dish is a perfect mix of sour, salty, sweet and hot tastes. Goi ca mai satisfies most of the diners from the elders to young people.
You can find this kind of salad easily at restaurants in Phan Thiet-Mui Ne. There is no better than sitting at a restaurant which is near the beach, enjoying some salad and listen to the sounds of waves. Do not miss the dish, it is worth a try. It has been said to be “Once eating, remember forever”.