Hand-made specialty in the bay

HCMC - The hand-made cha muc (fried squid paste) in Ha Long City in Quang Ninh Province offers a very special taste to travelers from afar. Ha Long City is named after Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the south of the city.

Hand-made fried squid paste in Ha Long City

The fried squid paste in Ha Long City is quite different from that in other places in the central coast. The indispensable ingredient is of course big squids weighing from 1.5 – 2 kilograms each caught in the sea of Ha Long Bay. The thick and crunchy squid flesh gives the dish a special flavor. Notably, only the flesh of this type of squids has the stickiness that helps form the shape of the specialty.

The squid flesh is hand-pounded in a mortar. The trick is not to overdo it (not too fine) so that its stickiness can be retained. According to local experienced cooks, this step decides how delicious the dish is.

Then, the paste is seasoned with a mixture of “secret” spices (local cooks won’t tell you what they exactly are) before being shaped into cookie-like pieces. These pieces will later be deep-fried in oil until they have an eye-catching yellow-brown color.

Local diners often enjoy the fried squid paste with steamed rice rolls or cooked sticky rice. The dish is served with chili sauce, cucumber and some herbs. According to locals, the dish tastes the best on the spot when it is just off the fry pan.

It is ideal if you taste cha muc Ha Long on your return trip to the city after a visit to the world-famous bay.