Nestled between a mountain and a river, the mountainous commune of Thung Nai in Hoa Binh Province’s Cao Phong District draws a large number of tourists every year for its gorgeous scenery, tranquility and food specialties, particularly grilled fish.
Grilled fish is a must-try specialty for visitors who traverse over 100 kilometers from Ha Noi to Thung Nai as the fish is so fresh and delicious. It is an unforgettable experience to enjoy the dish on a cold day in the commune, which is 20 kilometers from Hoa Binh City.
A man identified as Dung, who sells fish for grilling at the area nearby Ba Chua Thac Bo Temple in Thung Nai, said fish used for grilling in Thung Nai are caught from the Da River and tastier than milkfish, carp, and catfish.
Fish is plentiful in the Da River all the year round, Dung said, but the best season for catching fish in the mighty river is the flooding season from September to October.
According to fish vendors near the temple, after fish are caught, the big ones will be semi-processed and embalmed with salt while the small ones will be cleaned and attached to bamboo grids for being grilled on burning coal. After 10-15 minutes, the fish will turn brown yellow and produce a mouthwatering smell.
The grilled fish is served on a piece of green banana leaf along with wild vegetables and salt mixed with chili or special spices of the northwestern region.
Each type of grilled fish has a different taste but in general, their meat is white and firm and tastes delicious while their skin is crispy. Some places serve grilled fish with salted bamboo sprout harvested from the forests of Hoa Binh.
It would be a wonderful trip to Hoa Binh if visitors enjoy the grilled dish grilled in Thung Nai style on a boat sailing on the Da River in the afternoon. There are lodging facilities along the river.