‘Lau Tha’ – Phan Thiet Special Fish Hot Pot
Phan Thiet – Mui Ne is not only famous for its stunning beach, great sand dunes and nice people but also for many specialties such as grilled lizard, seafood pancake, half dried squid, etc. Most of them are very simple with high value and made of easy to find ingredients around; however, they need a very good and careful preparation as well as creation from the cook. I will recommend to you one dish like that today, ‘Lau Tha’ – Phan Thiet special fish hot pot.
This dish is created with the inspiration of ‘bun tha’ – the local noodle soup with fish. Yan Can Cook came to Phan Thiet – Mui Ne in 2009, and by chance, he was told about its popularity both in simple, available ingredients and influences to each local people since their childhood time. The soup includes rare fish, fresh ‘bun’, different types of vegetable; and broth which is cooked from tuna or barracuda bone or even from chicken, duck boiling water. He was convinced to try to cook the dish and liked it very much. Since then, the dish has become more and more popular and recently one of the best choices for guests visiting Phan Thiet – Mui Ne.
Returning to the dish, ‘lau tha’ is not simple like the fish soup any more. In order to make that, cook has to find more ingredients to make it balance. It’s the combination of five spices with salt, bitter, sour, spicy and sweet showing five elements including water, fire, wood, metal, and earth that symbolize for health. So, let find out basic ingredients and the way to cook this dish.
To make broth soup, we need bone of tuna or barracuda, some sugar cane to make the soup naturally sweet, minced shrimp without jacket, chopped tomato and other soup base. While waiting for the soup, we prepare others ingredients. Boil pork, when it’s done, deep in cold water for few minutes so that when you cut it into long slices, it’s easy. Fry eggs and also cut into long slices. Prepare five star fruit, green mango, cucumber, banana blossom and others vegetable in long slice pieces as well. Prepare some fresh bun and grill some sesame rice paper.
We have all ingredients available; it’s time to make it more attractive by decoration. Put each ingredient in one banana bract, and then arrange them around a round bamboo tray with green banana leave background. Keep seasoned fish in a plate and put it at the middle of the tray. The tray looks like a colorful flower with green of vegetable, fruits, yellow from fried eggs, black-white from sesame rice paper, purple of banana bract, and red-white of seasoned fish.
If you don’t like the sauce, you could finish by decoration and enjoy. Just deep seasoned fish in the broth, pick others ingredients and put in a bowl. Enjoy like other hot pots with more broth approximate to ingredients in bowl. However, sauce is something really different and sometimes keeps the dish soul. There are also many versions for this; however, the most basic one includes green banana, fish sauce, sugar, lemon juice, garlic, and roasted peanut. Put all these ingredients and shake until it’s smooth.
With sauce, we have another way of tasting. Deep fish through broth first; then roll all ingredients with rice paper and enjoy with the sauce or put all ingredients to a bowl, mix together with sauce and enjoy.
Done. Now let’s try the dish and share the taste with me.