Nam Ô fish salad, a must-try dish of Đà Nẵng

March 07, 2023 - 08:43

Visitors can tour the beautiful land and experience the dish at Nam Ô Village, which is located near the Cu Đê River outfall of Liên Chiểu District, only 15km from the central city. 

Hoàng Lan

Nam Ô raw fish salad, locally known as gỏi cá, is named after the small fishing village where the dish was born a hundred years ago. It attracts many visitors and travellers to the central coastal city of Đà Nẵng.

Visitors can tour the beautiful land and experience the dish at Nam Ô Village, which is located near the Cu Đê River outfall of Liên Chiểu District, only 15km from the central city. 

Before sunset, a fleet of boats return home, bringing baskets of fresh fish, mostly herring, to the beach to sell to traders and restaurants to make the special fish salad.

Dried Nam Ô fish salad or locally known as gỏi cá, attracts a lot of dinners. Photo

In the past, the dish was only available on the daily meal trays of locals, but now it has become a famous speciality that helps to put Đà Nẵng on the map, said local Phan Hồng Chuyên from Nam Ô fishing village.

“We choose fresh herring to make the fish salad because it is tastier with sweet meat compared with others,” said Chuyên, adding that the fish helps to make the dish famous with its characteristics that nowhere else in the country has.

There are two sorts of this fish salad: dried and wet. They both attract eaters and travellers to Đà Nẵng, she said.


Eaters are particularly interested in wet Nam Ô fish salad for its special characteristic flavour. Photo

To make the salad, herring the size of two fingers is usually chosen. The fish's head, inners and bones are removed. Its meat is cut into thin slices and washed in water with salt and vinegar to reduce the fishy smell, Chuyên said.

For the dried salad, the fillet is carefully mixed with vinegar and lemon juice for a few minutes before squeezing with roast rice powder (locally known as thính), spice, chilli, ginger and roasted sesame, she said.

Fresh fillet herring to make a fish salad. Photo

“We boil the squeezing water adding our hand-made fish sauce, chilli powder, tapioca starch, broth mix, and ground roasted peanut to make a dipping sauce for the dish,” said Chuyên, noting that these ingredients help to make the dish much more fragrant.

The fillet is mixed with ginger, galangal roots, garlic, minced chilli, sugar and locally made fish sauce for the wet salad. It is then marinated for between 30 and 60 minutes and wrapped it in rice paper. It is eaten with herbs, green bean sprouts and banana flower pieces.

An attractive tray of fish salad and its accompanying ingredients, such as herbs and wild leaves. Photo

A Nam Ô villager, Nguyễn Văn Hỏi, said the dish is enjoyable when eaten with ming aralia, wild banana slices, mango salad, cucumber, and star fruits.

“I’m an addict to the dish. I ask my wife to make it every week,” Hỏi said.

Hỏi said there are two ways to enjoy the fish salad: first, put herbs, and marinated herring slices on rice paper, wrap it up and dip it in the sauce; the second is to mix all ingredients such as herring slices, herbs and dipping sauce and eat it with baked rice paper.

A visitor from Hà Nội, Lê Trọng Hưng, said last year, when on a working tour to Đà Nẵng, his friend invited him to eat the salad. A seller advised him to try dried fish salad because eating uncooked fresh herring could confuse him.

“Despite all, I enjoy the fresh and sweetness of each herring bite mixed with the above-mentioned spice and ingredients, particularly the sour, sweet and buttery fat from the dipping sauce,” Hưng said, adding that during his week-long stay in the city, he tried the dish every day.

In the box

The tastiest Nam Ô fish salad spots in Đà Nắng:

- Bà Mỳ fish salad shop: at 11 Mai Lão Bang, Thuận Phước Ward, Hải Châu District 

- Tấn fish salad shop: at 464 Điện Biên Phủ Street; prices range from VNĐ30,000-120,000

- Sáu Hào fish salad shop: at 232 Trần Cao Vân of Thanh Khê District; prices range from VNĐ70,000-90,000

- Thanh Hương fish salad shop: at 1029 Nguyễn Lương Bằng Street, Liên Chiểu District; prices range from VNĐ 70,000-80,000

- Bà Hiền fish salad shop: at 1315 Nguyễn Tất Thành Road, Thanh Khê District; prices range from VNĐ 80,000-90,000

- Ms Hồng fish salad shop: at 118 Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, Hải Châu District; prices range from VNĐ10,000-80,000.

- Vinh fish salad shop: at 960 Nguyễn Lương Bằng, Hòa Hiệp Nam Ward, Liên Chiểu District; prices range from VNĐ30,000-50,000. VNS