On a business trip to the southwestern region on a scorching day, I got sunstroke and dropped by a roadside eatery for a rest. Welcoming us with a bright smile, the owner, Hai, suggested we try the snakehead porridge with bitter herbs after I mentioned my serious heatstroke.
Picking up the biggest snakehead fish of all, Hai cleaned and scaled the fish and cut off its tail. She then boiled it in a pot. After that, she dried rice and spring onion until it turned light brown with a smoky aroma. She then added water and cooked the dried rice until it turned slightly thick.
In the meantime, Hai filleted the fish and marinated it with fish sauce, pepper and sugar. She then put the fish into the porridge pot and stirred lightly to keep the fish slices unbroken.
Adding fresh bitter herbs to a bowl, Hai poured the delicious hot porridge into the bowl, topping it with some fish slices and pepper. After eating the porridge, I recovered from the heatstroke.
From the very first taste, I was totally won over by the fragrance of new rice mixed with the fatty flavour of lean snakehead fish and crunchy bitter herbs. This was how this simple food impressed me and left a good memory of the southwestern region on my mind./.
By Nguyen Luan