In the culinary culture of the people of Chau Doc (An Giang) in particular and many localities in the Southwest region in general, Mam is the favorite dish of the majority of Southern people. Mam Chau Doc is most famous in the region because of its taste and quality that is hard to match. Chau Doc is a land of many shrimps and fish, so it is abundant with ingredients for making Mam.
1. Better to Know as a Food Lover
Find them: Chau Doc City
Best time: Dusk-Dawn
Don’t miss: Fermented fish
Local’s pick: Chau Doc Market
Tourist’s pick: Chau Doc Night Market, Cam Mountain…
Facts: It is called Mam because the main ingredients are fresh fish in this land, brewed for a while with salt and special ingredients to create delicious Mam.
2. Better to Know Mam (Fermented Fish)
Chau Doc Mam is sold everywhere but most concentrated in Chau Doc market. Therefore, for any visitor when coming here, the definite must-do is to visit the market, first look and then buy some kinds of Mam as a gift. If it is your first time visiting this local market, you will surely be overwhelmed by the Mam and dried fish found everywhere. The snakehead Mam, Sat Mam, Linh Mam, Ba Khia Mam piled up into the “mountain”, the rows of dried fish of all kinds are extremely attractive.
Among the types of Mam sold at Chau Doc market (An Giang), Thai Mam is popular with many people. The main ingredients to make this Mam are usually snakehead fish, remove the bones and skin, then shred it, mix it with shredded papaya and ram bacon, add rice, sugar and chili peppers. The sugar used to make Mam is jaggery – a specialty of Bay Nui (An Giang).
Thai Mam served with raw vegetables, acrid bananas, and boiled bacon is the right style. People who make Mam in Chau Doc said that any fish can make Mam, but the most delicious are snakehead fish, catfish, Sat Fish, Trot Fish, and Linh fish.
3. Mam (Fermented Fish) in Chau Doc
Here, many Mam stalls became famous, known by many locals and tourists everywhere, such as Mam Ba Giao, Mam 9999, Mam 6666… In addition to being sold domestically, Mam is also sold in the country. Export to neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos…
According to the people selling here, there are many ways to eat Mam: raw, fried, steamed (sometimes mixed with duck eggs, bacon), and braised. Eating Mam cannot be without eggplant. If eating with raw or fried Mam, using long eggplant and breaking it by hand, cutting it with a knife is not good. And the braised Mam must be a dish, the fruit is round, and taking the whole eggplant shell is stylish. Braised Mam needs a lot of vegetables, but if it lacks water lily, sesbania flowers, and coconut vegetables, it will lose its taste. Thai Mam with boiled bacon, eaten with vermicelli, raw vegetables or rolled rice paper are delicious.
4. How to Make Mam (Fermented Fish)
Ingredients for Snakehead Fish Mam
Snakehead fish 1 fish (about 300g)
Grain salt 100 gr
Listen to roasted rice 100 gr
Canopy sugar 100 gr (or palm sugar)
How to choose and buy good ingredients
How to choose to buy fresh snakehead fish
For snakehead Mam, you should choose copper snakeheads to make the most delicious dish.
Choose snakehead fish with a sharp and solid head. The fish is just the right size, neither too fat nor too thin.
Choose fish with uniform color and dark black, characteristic fishy smell.
Avoid choosing too fatty, gray-brown snakehead fish because these are industrially raised fish, the meat is soft, less sweet and when making Mam, it will not be as delicious as copper snakehead.
See details: How to choose to buy delicious fresh snakehead fish to make Mam
How to choose and buy delicious rice
Choose rice with a characteristic aroma that is extremely pleasant and has a beautiful golden- brown color.
Don’t buy rice noodles that have no smell or have a smell strange, light color because this may be made from poor quality rice or have been left out for a long time, when making Mam will not be delicious.
You can easily find and buy rice at markets, food stores or e-commerce sites nationwide.
How to cook snakehead Mam?
Step 1. Processing snakehead fish
After buying snakehead fish, wash, remove intestines, gills, scales under the fins and blood vessels.
Then wash the fish thoroughly several times with diluted lemon juice to make the fish less fishy and less viscous, then drain.
When the fish is drained, cut into 3-4 pieces to taste.
Small tip: To get rid of the fishy and slimy smell of fish, you can also use granulated salt to rub directly on the fish, then wash the fish several times with water.
Step 2. Marinated fish
Put the cut fish in a glass jar, you put 1 layer of fish in turn, then 1 layer of salt, then press down so that the salt fills the gaps in the jar.
Use bamboo or chopsticks to fasten the marinated fish and close the lid of the jar, keep it in a dry place and avoid sunlight for about 5-6 days for the fish to absorb the salt.
Small tip: Depending on your preferences, if you don’t want to eat too salty fish, you can reduce the amount of salt to about 70-80g to marinate the fish. However, do not reduce the amount of salt too much, it will make the Mam pale and not be preserved for a long time.
Step 3. Mixing hearing
After about 5-6 days, the salt dissolves and soaks into the fish, then take out the jar, drain the salt water, add 100g of roasted rice and mix well to let the hearing soak into the fish.
When the hearing is evenly absorbed into the fish, continue to use the chopsticks to tighten the fish, cover the lid to keep in a dry place and expose to sunlight for about 1 month.
Step 4. Complete
Put the pot on the stove, put in the pot 30ml of water and 100gr of powdered sugar, cook until the sugar water boils, then remove the foam to clear the water and help the Mam to be preserved longer. Continue stirring until the sugar water thickens, then turn off the heat, let it cool.
Take out the jar containing the fish that has been soaked in hearing for 1 month, add all the sugar water above, mix well and leave in a dry place for the sugar to penetrate the fish.
After about 2-3 months when the fish has been well brewed, the spices are evenly absorbed into the fish and the Mam is complete. You can take it out to make dishes right away.
Step 5. Finished product
Snakehead fish paste after completion has an eye-catching color and an extremely characteristic aroma. Fish is spiced and firm, you can use Mam immediately or combine with other ingredients to make delicious dishes. Good luck!
5. Pro tips:
Here are our tips for easing your mind (and stomach) around food-handling environments that you may not be used to.
Make sure the food is freshly cooked. If you’re eating hot street food, it’s always safest (not to mention more delicious) to eat food you can see being cooked to order.
Look for lines and busy stalls. Busy street food stalls are an indicator of popularity, and their high turnover rate means the food is never sitting out for hours and developing dreaded bacteria. Yes, long lines can be discouraging when you’re hungry after a full day of exploring, but it’s not worth the risk of grabbing precooked food from the empty spot next door.
Eat when the locals are eating. The last and most important element here is when to eat. You’re likely already on a weird eating schedule while you’re traveling, but it’s important to try and adjust to the eating times of where you are. A bowl of pho might be lunch for Americans, but it’s breakfast for the Vietnamese. This ensures that you’re eating freshly cooked food and that you can find the best and most popular places to eat.
If you can’t drink the water, then you can’t eat the salad. Most people get so hung up on not drinking the water or skipping ice in drinks that they don’t think about all of the other ways in which water is used in food service. Fruits and vegetables tend to be washed with tap water in most places, rather than the filtered water that locals drink—or sometimes it’s not washed at all. If you’re really craving some produce, try fruits you can peel or cooked veggies.
Trust your gut. If you’re unsure about the food or the way that it’s being prepared, then keep moving. Eating street food all over the world doesn’t make you an expert. Every stall and every country are different, and sometimes the rules can be harder to follow. When something doesn’t look, smell, or feel right, don’t eat it! Trust your judgment. Chances are that there’s another spot close by that’s making something more delicious.
Must-Eat Foods & Restaurants in Can Tho: Co Ut’s Cong cake, Ut Dzach Fine Rice Vermicelli, Thanh Van Grilled Pork Sausage, Crab Noodle Soup At Floating Market, Scorched Rice with Caramelized Fish Sauce, 7-Toi’s Duck Meat Pancake, Banh Mi Thuy, Banana Blossom Salad, Fried Spring Rolls, Fresh Spring Rolls, Fetal duck egg (balut), Honeycomb Cake, Mini Sticky Rice Cake, Cassava Silkworm Cake, Grilled Banana Wrapped in Sticky Rice, Khmer-style Bun Goi Da Soup, Egg Coffee, Con Son Grilled Snakehead Fish, Bun Mam – Fermented Fish Noodle Soup, Lau Mam – Fermented Fish Hotpot, Grilled Snails with Pepper, Magenta Sticky Rice Cake, Duck cooked with Fermented Tofu, Rice Noodle Pizza, Vegetarian Noodle Soup, Snails Stuffed With Pork…
Must-Eat Foods & Restaurants in Chau Doc: Chau Doc Fish Noodle Soup, Sugar Palm Fruit, Basa Fish Hot Pot, Mam (Fermented fish), Phu Huong Beef Noodle Soup, Broken Rice with Pork Chop, Long Xuyen Broken Rice, Nui Cam Pancake, O Thum’s Chicken Grilled with Lime Leaves, Stir-fried Shrimp with Sesbania Flower, Sweet & Sour Soup with Siamese Mud Carp Soup & Sesbania Flower, Caramelized & Braised Catfish, Grilled Rice-field Rat with Salt and Chili…
Must-Eat Foods & Restaurants in Soc Trang: Pia Cake, Cong Cake (Banh Cong), Bun Nuoc Leo Soc Trang’s Noodle Soup, Soc Trang’s Bun Goi Da Soup, Duck Noodle Soup with black Pepper, Curry Noodle Soup, Grilled Beef on Tile, Khmer-style Tube Cake, Khmer-style Mung Bean Cake (Banh In), Dried Radish (Xa Bau), Stir-Fried Noodles with Seafood (Mi Sua), Soc Trang’s Green Rice Flakes…
Must-Eat Foods & Restaurants in Ben Tre: Phu Le Rice Wine, Ben Tre’s Coconut Candy, Flat Banana, Coconut Rice, Snail Pancake, Sea Snail with Coconut Milk, Coconut Worm, Young Coconut Salad with Shrimp & Pork, Son Doc Puff Rice Paper…
Must-Eat Foods & Restaurants in Cai Be: Puffed Rice Cake…
Must-Eat Foods & Restaurants in Vinh Long: Elephant Ear Fish (fried giant gourami)…
Must-Eat Foods & Restaurants in Ca Mau: Banh tam ga cay (Silkworm rice cake with curried chicken), Grilled Vop clams with salt and pepper, Grilled Mudskipper Fish, Stone Crab Roast With Salt, Young Bee Salad, Nam Can’s Crab, U Minh Forest’s Honey, U Minh’s Fermented Fish Hotpot…
Hopefully, the above tips will help you to come up with a great plan for your adventure in Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. Have a safe trip!
“Sleep less, travel more, respect more” – Thomas Vietnam – Local travel expert.