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15/07/2018 - 10:38

A strange taste of stewed sour cuttlefish eggs

As usual, at the beginning of each month, my family and two of my best friends’ families would go out together in order to “strengthen” our friendship. It might get boring when hanging out in the city after a while; so, this time, we decided to bring along the kids on a journey to the far seaside. We decided to choose Vinh An beach (Vinh An commune, Phu Vang district) as our destination for this trip.

Stewed sour cuttlefish eggs – a delicious summer dish

It’s worth driving for more than 40km when we could see the beauty of the wilderness, the blue sea, the stretching white sand and the cool breeze from the sea. Of course, once going to the beach, one must swim in the sea and eat delicious seafood. However, apart from typical seafood dishes such as shrimp, crab, squid, etc., a local friend and the restaurant owner recommended us to try stewed sour cuttlefish eggs. They praised the dish, saying that it was strange but delicious, and that it was very rare to find a dish like this elsewhere. So, we decided to try to see if the dish would live up to its reputation.

According to the introduction, the main ingredient is the eggs of the cuttlefish, which are separated from the body. They are white and translucent like little onions bulbs. The skin membrane covering the eggs is removed to get rid of the sand. Then, the eggs are soaked in water to release the salt. The cuttlefish eggs are stewed with other sea fish such as cobia, garfish, etc., depending on individual preference. One of the ingredients that create the uniqueness of this dish is the cassava peels. The cassava peels are peeled, washed, and chopped into small strips to be pickled. The pickled cassava peels are only available in the summer, so they can be replaced with pickled bamboo shoots. But according to the owner and the local friend, the cuttlefish eggs should be stewed with pickled cassava peels to achieve the authentic flavor.  

Cooking stewed sour cuttlefish eggs is not so complicated. So, while we eagerly waited to try the specialty dishes of Vinh An, the friendly restaurant owner told us the steps to make this dish. The fish that is to be cooked with the cuttlefish eggs need to be cleaned, cut, and marinated with spices such as fish sauce, seasoning and chili. Afterwards, fry some shallots and chili with oil. When the oil is fragrant and has a nice color, put the fish in. Turn the heat low enough so that the fish can absorb all the seasoning. After that, add the pickled cassava peels (or pickled bamboo shoots) and add a moderate amount of water.

Boil the broth until the fish has been cooked, then put in the cleaned cuttlefish eggs. Let the mixture boil for another 5 minutes and adjust seasoning before turning off the heat. If the eggs are cooked too long, they will break apart and lose their sweet flavor. Just as the owne finished the instructions, our steaming aromatic bowl of stewed sour cuttlefish eggs was brought out.

Our first impression when we tasted the broth was a harmonious mix of sweet and sour flavors, along with the great smell of fish and cuttlefish eggs. The fish was nicely seasoned, and the cuttlefish eggs were creamy and fresh but not too fatty.

I have tried steamed or fried cuttlefish eggs many times before. But this was the first time I heard of and tried stewed sour cuttlefish eggs. Eating the cuttlefish eggs with the sour cassava peels created a harmonious creamy yet fresh taste that was out of this world. This was truly the uniqueness of this dish. Though this was my first time tasting this flavor, it made a lasting impression on me.

In the near future, we will definitely return with many more of our friends to the beautiful Vinh An beach to enjoy this strange and delicious dish.

Story and photo: THAO VY