WHILE the restaurants of Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam are a delight with their wide range of fresh seafood, no trip to the Kien Giang province locality would be complete without sampling street food at the night market at the heart of Duong Dong Town.
The night market houses numerous food stalls that don’t have a glossy appearance like restaurants, but impress tourists with the scent of grilled food, the beautiful colours of desserts and the hawker’s unique cooking techniques.
The food stalls selling seafood display aquariums with lobsters, clams, snails and fish swimming inside, catching the eye of gourmands.
On the grill racks, the seafood gives off an alluring fragrance that entices passers-by. Among the food items, sea urchin is a must-try for tourists on Phu Quoc.
Grilled with spring onions and roasted peanuts, the dish is a delicacy of fishermen in the region.
Living in the coral and rock of Phu Quoc Island, sea urchins consume seaweed. Behind their thorny shells, sea urchins hide tasty, fat and nutritious meat.
Inside the shells, there is just a little soft meat which has creamy yellow colour, which is rich in protein.
The breeding season of sea urchins is between March and June, which is also the best time to visit Phu Quoc.
The chefs cut sea urchins in half, stir chopped green onions with grease from pork fat and grill them over hot charcoal. When the dish is almost done, they top it with small pieces of roasted peanuts. It’s best served with salt and black pepper mixed with lemon, or mustard.
While sea urchins bring me to the precipice of heaven, the other delicacies at Phu Quoc night market kick the door in and thrust me into ecstasy.
The islanders are good at presenting the food and don’t need to call customers, instead just drawing in people by the eye-catching displays of beautiful food.
The quail eggs grilled in porcelain bowls are among most the beloved specialities of the market. Each bowl contains three to five fresh eggs, topped with grease, cheese, spring onions and fried onions.
It is grilled until the egg whites turn opaque, a little bit burned on the edge while the yolk is still liquid and shiny.
The tamarind sauce makes the dish special, with the sweet and sour of the sauce mixing with the fatty taste of eggs and greasy cheese.
Phu Quoc is also home to palmyra palm trees, so many specialities made from the tree originate from here. You can try palmyra juice and palmyra sweet soup.
The most well-known dish from palmyra is steamed sponge cakes made from palmyra sap and flesh.
As a combination of botanical ingredients like palmyra fruit, cane sugar, rice flour and tapioca starch, the dish is healthy and light.
The delicious cake can be a dessert or starter or a snack.
A street stand selling kẹo chi (thread sweets) always attracts people, who surround it to admire the sellers making this dessert.
The sugar is spun skillfully until it becomes threads. The threads are placed between two layers of rice pancakes, added with shredded coconut and fruit syrup or coconut milk.
Once threads, the dish takes a long time to melt, so you can take your snack for a stroll to discover the rest of the market. Viet Nam News/ANN