Thoi Loi: The Weirdest “Tree Climbing Fish” Can Be Found In Vietnam
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“Thoi loi” (giant mudskipper) is one of the strangest fish on the planet because it can both dive deep under water and hang on trees. This is a specialty fish in some mangrove areas in Vietnam.
Giant mudskipper are deen in the mangrove swamps in southern Vietnam such as Can Gio, Nhon Trach, Go Cong, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Ninh Binh in the north.
What is Giant Mudskipper?
Giant mudskipper (Ca thoi loi, Thoi loi) is listed as one of six strangest animal species in the world for its prominent eyes. Ca Mau province in Mekong Delta region of Vietnam is famous for giant mudskipper which has become a favorite food of many people. It can grow to a length of 27 centimeters, occurs in marine, brackish and fresh waters. It is most frequently found along muddy shores in estuaries as well as in the tidal zones of rivers. It lives in a burrow in the mud and emerges from the burrow at low tide on sunny days. It can move quickly across a muddy surface and is capable of breathing both in and out of the water. It can also climb trees. Giant mudskipper eats fiddler crabs, shrimp, and smaller fishes.
The fish can walk, jump or even climb trees. Based on such moving characteristics, they are called "walking fish". It is considered one of the six "weirdest" animal species on the planet.
Thoi Loi – A specialty of Ca Mau
This fish can be processed into many delicious dishes. It is a specialty of the southwestern region and Ca Mau province in particular.
Due to moving continuously, giant mudskipper flesh is very firm and tasty. There are many giant mudskipper recipes: Braised giant mudskipper with ground black pepper (Thoi loi kho tieu), Deep-fried giant mudskipper (Thoi loi chien), Sweet and sour soup with giant mudskipper and fermented steamed rice (Lau mam thoi loi), Grilled giant mudskipper with salt and chili pepper (Thoi loi nuong tieu). They also make dry giant mudskipper (Kho thoi loi) which could be fried or grilled, then dipped in tamarind fish sauce. Dry giant mudskipper is one of the most popular gifts to bring home from Ca Mau.
In Vietnam, they catch giant mudskippers in three ways. The first way: catch a worm, remove its guts, use a coconut leaf to tie the worm into a 2-m bamboo stick; prepare a big bucket with some ash; lure the fish to bite the worm and skillfully move the stick so that the fish is dropped into the bucket. The second way is catching the mudskipper from its cave by hand. The third way is trapping the mudskippers with a conical trap made from water coconut leaves.
In the southernmost province of Ca Mau, there are many delicious dishes cooked using giant mudskippers, such as fish braised with soy sauce, grilled with chili and salt and salad. However, the most favourite and popular is giant mudskippers braised with pepper.
In preparation for cooking, the fish is cleaned, scaled and gutted before being mixed with seasonings like milled pepper, fish sauce, salt, chili, sugar, caramel syrup and coconut milk.
Put the prepared ingredients in an earthen pot with sliced pork and a little water and then simmer over a low fire until the fish and pork are well-blended and brown. Lastly, add sliced spring onions. The fish is best served with hot rice or gruel and pickled cucumber and basil.
|Photo: Vietnam Journey|
Porridge with mudskipper
Although there are some delicious dishes from this kind of fish such as Braised mudskipper with black pepper, Hot pot with mudskipper, local people usually cook Porridge with mudskipper thanks to its comfort, easy and quick recipe.
It is totally simple to cook Chao ca keo. Just cook rice in water until the rice tender and broken, season with salt, fish sauce. Wash mudskipper carefully, no need to remove the organs of this fish. The greasy and buttery organs of mudskipper are favorite of many people. Some prefer to eat the organs than the fish meat. Then put prepared mudskipper into the pot of porridge on the oven, cook until well-done but not too tender. Add some green onion stalk to the porridge. Serve the dish in a soup bowl right after cooking is better. Top it with some chopped green onions, coriander, ground black pepper. Fish sauce for dipping, sliced/minced ginger, lime wedges and sliced chili pepper are could not missed.
|Photo: Trong Dong Travel|
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