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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Savoring braised flying fish with young jackfruit

By Tien Sa

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The timeless classic, braised flying fish with young jackfruit, has been a beloved staple in the culinary repertoire of the central region. It holds a cherished place on the daily dining tables of the local populace.

Renowned fishermen with years of experience attest that the central region boasts the country’s largest and most delectable flying fish. Scientifically known as Exocoetus volitans, these graceful creatures sport elongated bodies and tails, slender backs, and shimmer in shades of dark blue or silver-gray. What truly sets them apart is their distinctive, lengthy pair of fins that gracefully stretch from body to tail. The peak season for flying fish, or “chuon” fish, occurs from March to July each year. During this period, they are not only at their most abundant but also priced reasonably, ranging from VND70,000 to VND100,000 per kilogram.

The preparation and cooking of this dish are a study in simplicity. Once cleaned, the fish is meticulously scaled, fins and tail removed, and its entrails extracted. The fish is then cut into bite-sized morsels, marinated with a medley of aromatic ingredients—chives, lemongrass, onions, fresh turmeric, chili, and an array of spices. The fish is gently fried until its flesh acquires a tantalizing firmness. An appropriate amount of water is added, and the dish is left to simmer over low heat.

In parallel, young jackfruit undergoes a transformation of its own. After peeling away its rugged exterior, it is sliced into bite-sized pieces and pan-fried until it takes on a subtle golden hue. It is then harmoniously united with the fish in the pot, simmering together until both components reach a state of delectable tenderness, all while absorbing the rich tapestry of flavors.

Braised flying fish with young jackfruit is typically served alongside a steaming bowl of rice or fresh rice noodles. The delicate richness of the fish perfectly complements the fleshy succulence of the young jackfruit, crafting a culinary symphony that dances upon the taste buds, creating an unforgettable and alluring flavor.

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