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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Savoring snakehead fish porridge in Quang Tri

By Le Trung Thu Hang

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Hai Lang’s powdered porridge, more commonly known as snakehead fish porridge, has become an iconic culinary gem in Hai Lang District, Quang Tri Province. This dish, celebrated for its delectable taste and distinctive appearance, continues to captivate tourists and locals alike.

In the creation of Hai Lang powdered porridge, locals undergo a meticulous and elaborate process. It all starts with thinly rolled flour, derived from either rice or filtered flour, which is then meticulously cut into small, elongated fibers resembling the slats of a bamboo bed. The quality of these dough fibers must strike the perfect balance, neither too dry nor too wet.

Selecting the right snakehead fish from the rice fields is crucial, ensuring a firm and sweet flavor. After a thorough cleaning and steaming, the fish flesh is carefully separated from the bones and marinated with a blend of pepper, salt, and chili.

It is then expertly fried alongside onions and crushed chives (Allium schoenoprasum). However, what truly sets this dish apart is the ingenious use of fish intestines, which are thoughtfully transformed into a delightful topping instead of being discarded. The fish intestines are meticulously cleaned, marinated, and skillfully stir-fried alongside the fish flesh.

The flavorful broth is created by simmering fish bones and heads in a pot, infused with crushed purple onions and chives, for 30-45 minutes to eliminate any hint of fishiness. Once the bones and fish heads are removed, the chef carefully seasons the broth with a selection of spices and introduces the delicate dough fibers. To complete the masterpiece, the fish flesh and fish intestines are added to the porridge.

As the porridge is poured into a bowl, a garnish of chopped green onions, peppers, and chili is generously sprinkled on top, creating a symphony of sweet, chewy, and spicy flavors that enchant every diner.

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