Mar 12, 2018
Which food has the strongest smell in Vietnam?
Are you thinking of durians? Then you probably get it wrong. Durians smell amazing and attractive (to Vietnamese people, of course). Ask any Vietnamese this question, and “mắm” is definitely the answer you will get. From the North to the South of Vietnam, there are different kinds of “mắm” which are made from acetes, shrimp, prawn, egg, fish. And to any Vietnamese, whatever starts with the word “mắm” is always related to a strong smell.
Now look at this photo:a pile of dried fish with special shape, attractive colors, and very strange smell! It is called “mắm Châu Đốc” - a special “mắm” in Chau Doc town, An Giang province in Mekong delta, Southern Vietnam.
Image: Mắm stalls in Chau Doc Market. (Source: Saostar.vn)
What is “mắm Châu Đốc”? “Mắm” which is made from the meat of fish is carefully processed by the people. This process takes a lot of time and effort. In Chau Doc, most of the fish are raised from the villages at the confluence of the famous Hau River. After initial processing, fish will be washed carefully and soaked in the jug for about fifteen days. After taking the fish out, all the heads, skins and bones of them will be removed, only the meat is kept to be cut into small pieces and marinated with seasoning. The taste of "mắm" is salty due to being soaked in salt, when eaten you will feel the sweetness from fish meat penetrated, soft, crunchy, and fragrant a special aroma. "Mắm" is a bit like durian: some people like it when others do not. But if you have the gut to try once, I'm sure you will be love it! Believe me, I tried eating it. And it’s so great!
Image: Mắm Thái. (Source: saostar.vn)
Chau Doc is located adjacent to the Hậu River - a vast river of the Mekong Delta. This city is about 245 km from Ho Chi Minh City. The North is bordered by Cambodia, home to the Vietnamese, Chinese, Cham, Khmer. Therefore, culture and cuisine are pretty much special.
The Hau river. Photo by Phung Chau Doc people are much proud of their “mắm”. They would probably introduce the town’s nick name as “Mắm Kingdom”. Chau Doc market is the famous place to sell "mắm" and fishery products in the southwest of Viet Nam. The fish bowl is "high as mountains", clean and have clear price list. Just within Chau Doc region, there are more than 20 kinds of “Mắm”, such as “Mắm Thái”, “Lóc Lê”, “Mắm Bà Giáo Khỏe”, “Mắm cô Giáo Thảo 4444” and many kind of made from a variety of freshwater fish in MeKong river.
Many kinds of Mắm. (Source: saostar.vn)
Visiting Chau Doc during the festival in April lunar month, admire the majestic scenery of the mountains, large rice fields, enjoy the Mam, combined with the local vegetables, sipping a cup of rice wine...oh, so great!
Hey hey hey!!! I just want to say one thing, do not eat too much before coming here! There are also some dishes made from "mắm" which are so delicious and eye-catching.
Photo source: We have asked Fanpage Lang Thang An Giang for references. Content Writing: AskVietnamese Team (Phung Nguyen)