Monday, 16/10/2023 15:25

Tuyên Quang’s local duck and fish paste recognised valuable dishes of VN

Thu Hà

Tuyên Quang Province’s free-range ducks from Minh Hương Village and pickled fish from Chiêm Hóa have recently been recognised among the most valuable dishes of Việt Nam for the 2022-24 period.

Local resident Trần Minh Tân said the duck has a natural fragrance, its meat is tender but firm.

There are a variety of local dishes from the ducks: boiled, steamed or stir-fried with salt; braised with Indochina dragonplum fruit; cooked with taro and carrot; or stir-fried with chili and lemongrass, and particularly, duck steamed with sticky rice has become a traditional dish of locals here, Tân said.

A tray of tasty boiled Minh Hương duck will make your mouth water. Photo snntuyenquang.gov.vn

Cooks often choose a duck between 1.8-2.2kg, and ingredients such as lemongrass, coriander and garlic are cut and mixed together with salt and broth mix, then put into the duck’s belly. 

One kilogram of sticky rice, soaked in water for six hours, is put in a steamer and topped with the duck over medium heat for 30-40 minutes. The duck is best enjoyed along with a fish sauce and forest basil dipping sauce, said Tân, adding that the dish has long been famous. “Visitors will miss a great chance if they come to Minh Hương without trying this dish.”

The duck has been given an important place among the four trees and animals most prioritised for economic development by Tuyên Quang authorities, after acacia, orange and buffalo.

The Minh Hương duck species, quite different from others, is noted for its fragrant and savoury meat. Photo dacsantuyenquang.com.vn

The Intellectual Properties Department recognized that the Minh Hương duck would help local breeders thrive, and it was ranked among Việt Nam’s top 100 most tasty dishes in 2016 by VietKing, Tân said. 

"No one in the village knows when the duck came into being, but locals call it 'stream duck' because these ducks are able to find food in the stream so they are highly resistant to diseases," he said.

"The duck has been sold in many provinces and cities including Hà Nội and HCM City, bringing stable monthly income for many local households."

Minh Hương duck cooked with local taro and carrot makes a highly nutritious dish often prepared for the elderly and children. Photo vietgiaitri.com

In addition, the pickled fish of Chiêm Hóa District also helps place Tuyên Quang on the national culinary map. It is both a traditional dish and also a precious remedy supposedly used to treat many ailments by the Tày ethnic group, said Hoàng Văn Nùng, also a local resident.

To create this sauce, locals raise fish in the flooded rice fields for three months and then ferment the fish with salt and other ingredients for 10 months.

Nùng said the process of making the pickled fish is rather complicated: steam sticky rice, let it cool and mix it with alcohol yeast, put the mix in a basket covered by banana leaf and keep it airtight for four days. When the mixture becomes fragrant, fish from the fields are caught and well cleaned.

Other ingredients, including galangal root, betel leaf and wild red rice leaf, are all cut into pieces.

Fermented fish paste made by the Tày ethnic people has become a specialty dish, putting Tuyên Quang on the national culinary map. Photo tripzone.vn

The final stage is to mix salt and all other ingredients, then put them in a jar and seal it for 10 months before use, said Nùng, noting that the fish paste has a brown-red colour, and a special fragrance from sticky rice, wine yeast, galangal root and other ingredients.

The paste is used to dip boiled pork, duck, vegetables and aromatic herbs, and to fry with forest bamboo.

The dish, a culinary essence of the Tày people in Chiêm Hóa, has become a specialty of Tuyên Quang and Việt Nam in general. It draws interest not only from Vietnamese but also foreign visitors.

“ Almost all visitors and travellers to the province buy this fish paste as gift to take home,” Nùng said. VNS

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