Many local delicacies use mackerels from the sea of Quang Ngai Province as their hero ingredient. The two most popular ones are mackerels in hot pure fish sauce and mackerels cooked with pickled muskmelon.
The Sa Huynh fishing village in Duc Pho District, Quang Ngai Province, is where one can find the best mackerels.
As for the mackerels in hot pure fish sauce or ca tha mam lu in Vietnamese, where ca means mackerels and mam lu means pure fish sauce, it is the pure fish sauce that determines the flavor of the dish.
The best pure fish sauce has to be high protein, light yellow, lightly sweet and have a distinctive aroma. Fresh mackerels are cleaned and cut into fillets, then marinated with salt, pepper, minced chili and garlic for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, the broth is prepared. It includes coconut water, pure fish sauce and soy sauce. The dipping sauce for the dish made with pure fish sauce, chili, garlic and lemon juice is also served.
Diners first dip the marinated mackerel fillets and herbs into the boiling broth. They are then wrapped in rice paper, dipped into the sauce and enjoyed.
For the second specialty, mackerels cooked with pickled muskmelon (Cucumis sativus) melon, fresh mackerels and pickled muskmelon are cleaned and cut into slices.
In a pot, one layer of slices of pickled muskmelon are arranged at the bottom with a layer of mackerel slices on top. They are then marinated with fish sauce, sugar, chili, shallots and pepper for 10 minutes. They are then simmered until the sauce thickens. The dish is then ready to be eaten.