The brand name of Kien Giang vermicelli and fish has appeared for a very long time and nobody knows exactly where it came from; but the taste of the dish is so typical that we cannot confuse it with any other kind of vermicelli and fish.
Kien Giang province is the ended land in the South West of the country. With a long coast, Kien Giang has a large aquatic product. The food here is processed in various ways but still kept their own flavor.
The vermicelli and fish is a popular dish; each place has their own flavor. However, the Kien Giang vermicelli and fish is special in its own way.
Although people humbly consider vermicelli and fish as a common dish, the process to cook the dish here is not simple at all.
First, the fish should be alive when we prepare the dish. If it is already dead, its meat would not tasty anymore. After removing all its scab, clean the fish and cut it into three parts. Cut the head apart from the body and keep the bowel stick to the head.
Using a pointed knife to cut a small line on the fish’s stomach and then taking all the remained food out. When doing so, we must be very careful not to break the fish’s liver and gallbladder. (In the Southern, people highly value the fish’s bowel. They consider it as the best part of the fish. Not only that, the bowel also has a cultural meaning in communication. In a meal, the bowel would be respectly given to honor ones).
The fish then would be steamed in a pot call “xửng” (it is a wood mould that is usually used for steaming with some holes at the bottom) so that the sweet water from the fish would drop into the pot of bullion below.
When the fish is cooked, take it out and remove all the skin. Then, break the fish into pieces and put them on a plate. After that, we would prepare the shrimp. Shrimp used for cooking the vermicelli and fish must be the sea shrimp.
Clean the shrimps, remove their shell and head, embalm them with a little salt, pepper and garlic. Then, dry the shrimps with a little oil and garlic, keep the fire small and dry until the shrimps turn into golden yellow.
If we want the bullion more moreish, we could bake a dried cuttlefish and tear it into small pieces and put them in the pot of bullion. We should not use bones from pig, chicken or cow since it would make the typical flavor of fish lose. If the fish has caviar, we can take it out, and put it in the pot of bullion to make it look more attractive.
The vermicelli is also carefully manipulated. The rice must be a good one. First, we have to soak the rice in fragrant coconut water, and then wash it in water so that the rice would be spotlessly white.
The next step is husking the rice and kneading the rice flour. Then, we put the rice flour into the mould and push the flour into boiling water. When the rice is float, we would have the vermicelli, take it out and pour cold water over. The vermicelli must be processed in such a meticulous way so that it would be fragrant and smooth.
Soak the vermicelli into the bouillon and quickly put it into a bowl, then put the fish and shrimp on and then pour the bouillon into the bowl. We can also add some green onion and dill to make it more delicious.
The dish would taste better if it is served with Phu Quoc fish sauce – the famous typical fish sauce of Kien Giang.
In Kien Giang, people like to eat vermicelli in some common restaurants at the market or in some small shifts. When enjoying the dish in such places, you would truly feel its delicious taste in the simple and natural atmosphere.