Goby fish hotpot has foodies craving

February 20, 2024 - 10:35
The hotpot’s broth is sweeter than others because of its steamed pork bone, while live fish mixed with tomato, river leaves, bitter herb and chili help create the characteristic broth that is its own made-in-Saigon trade mark.

Quý Dương

Hồ Nguyên Ngọc, who recently returned from Dubai to his home in HCM City (formerly named Sài Gòn) to celebrate Tết (Lunar New Year) festival with his family after four years of absence, said he had a strong craving for goby fish hotpot and hoped to have some immediately.

Ngọc’s mother Kiều Lam led him to a shop on Bà Huyện Thanh Quan Street, known to serve the most tasty and delicious goby fish hotpot in the city.

The goby fish hotpot that has a lot of foodies hooked. — Photo checkinvietnam.vtc.vn

“When we arrived at a shop, it was full so we had to wait a few minutes. My belly was so hungry that I thought I would eat all the fish in the shop,” said Ngọc.

Fortunately, a waiter soon came and served them. Several minutes later, savoury smell from the hotpot made Ngọc’s mouth water even more.

When the fish was done in the pot, Ngọc’s mother added sliced banana trunk, taro stem, and other fresh vegetables into it and turned down the heat.

A boiling hotpot may be just what you are craving. — Photo digifood.vn

“My first impressive taste is the heat of chili mixed with sour herbs and tamarind fruit, as well as the delicious hot goby fish,” said Ngọc, adding that the dish is most enjoyable when eaten with fresh aromatic herbs and chili.

He said that the hotpot’s broth is more savoury than others because of its stewed pork bone, while live goby fish mixed with tomato, bitter herb and chili help create the characteristic broth that is its own made-in-Sài Gòn trade mark.

Other ingredients in the hotpot may include shrimp, clams and octopus, but Ngọc said he didn't like these extra ingredients, preferring the goby fish for its own flavour.

Ngọc’s mother said the dish originates in the southern-most province of Cà Mau. The goby fish is grey and lives in rivers so it is very clean and organic. Its meat is firm and fragrant, without a fishy smell but savoury and a bit bitter.

A colourful tray of goby fish hotpot ingredients include shrimp, octopus, clam and many others. — Photo halotravel.vn

Apart from hotpot, we were also served grilled and braised goby fish with coconut juice.

Goby fish hotpot is often eaten with vermicelli, not with instant noodle as others, said the waiter.

After half an hour of pleasurable and healthy eating, Ngọc observed those eating around him. Locals, foreign tourists and domestic travellers from other areas all flocked here to enjoy the dish, and they all looked happy.

Ngọc said although he was full, he still wanted to eat more.

Crowds of customers enjoy goby fish hotpot at a shop in HCM City's Bà Huyện Thanh Quan Street. — Photo digifood.vn

“Goby fish hotpot is not only nutritious, but also helps connect people from across the country, and unite family members in a very close and warm atmosphere like Tết in which they can tell each other about their life, their work and their concerns,” Ngọc’s mother said, adding that the dish is so popular that low-income people can afford.

“I will never forget the dish’s special taste. I hope to return home next Tết to enjoy it,” said Ngọc, who will again leave his home for work in Dubai this week. — VNS