Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seafood Trail...

So... Barbara told me about the Seafood trail that Saigon Street Eats were going to be offering their clients and I decided to go on one to see what all the fuss was about....


And oh my gosh gluttony shall abound ... first of... my advice is come hungry.. as there is so much food you want to have a good appetite for the feast that this amazing couple has in store for you. Secondly...empty your bladder and bowels before you venture out as public toilets are... well... not a place you want to be caught in with your pants down... literally....

Now these guys don't take you to the places that the foreigners frequent...but to the authentic local places of repute... first stop... snail street


so right from the outset ... you can see all the offerings and choose what you want... but there is not only the choice of seafood...there are also ways that you can ask them to prepare them for you... garlic and tamarind...or lemongrass..or coconut butter... ALL delicious options but was wonderful to have Vu basically in control and gettng things sorted...just as well....


as the untrained eye will not be able to make any sense of the menu...and of course to have us be guided as to what to do with all the bowls and things put on our table...



First step when presented with a bowl of salt and a lemon in it... its to make your own sauce...so squeeze the lemon into the bowl and sort of swirl the spices around in the juice to make a dipping sauce for your barbecued prawns or crab or whatever you like really... and yes it is delicious



First food to arrive are the crabs... and they taste incredible.. simply prepared with spices and thankfully already cracked so easy to get to the sweet meat. Now tradition here is you throw the shell down on the floor when you're done... and so when a party gets up from the table.. the more trash they have around the table.. that shows its a restaurant that is successful and sometimes the shell will be left to show other potential customers about the satisfaction of those before them... personally I wouldn't want to walk into a place with previous customers shell mess but it seems to do the trick here


Next addition to our table were these mussels cooked with peanuts and then one adds fish sauce and chilli on top. Since these are an aphrodisiac and the East is all about Ying and Yang.. the salad leaved provided are now put to use... the leaves are supposed to calm you down so you don't go out rushing into the street and start humping poles or whatever... so add a leaf to each clam that you pick up to eat...


After this we get delicious prawns ... that to me were intimidating as I am used to having prawns already shelled and cleaned...but have no fear I shall try to walk you through the process of getting those babies safely into your mouth with minimum trouble


Now don't get grossed out by my directions... it really works and once you get the  hang of it... those delicious prawns will be devoured at alarming speed... so pick up one... and rip the head off ... next you attack those little legs.. and rip away...think of it as therapeutic... or a replacement for what you would like to do to someone at work perhaps...



then the rest of the shell one can peel off and voila... nice plump cooked prawn ready for eating.. and here is where you use the dipping sauce you made


See... as easy as pie....or prawn as the case may be :) Now if you are out and about on the streets of Saigon and you decide to opt for water.. naturally..bottled but you want ice ..but are afraid to order some or use it as you are not sure of the quality... and easy way to see if its safe or not is to make sure there is a hole in the ice...that means it was made in a machine and generally should be safe for consumption..don't you love all these tips that were given out ?



Back to the food... next up were clams cooked in a lemongrass sauce... and OH MY GOD.. totally divine...just pick up a clam and drink the deliciousness from it as if it were a spoon... you can add some sauce to it if you like but WOW.... definitely worth the try.. at this point I just wanted to marry the table and live right there forever...


Now the most curious thing on the menu that evening were the micro snails.. I didn't even know one could eat these...but apparently you can... with a safety pin...


... and yes they were delicious...these were prepared in coconut butter.. and the method is simple..push the pin into the opening of the snail... or the front door... as Barbara fondly calls it and you will find a hard nail like object.. you don't want to eat that.. so remove carefully and what is left behind is the meat that you will love..impale on the pin and try to safely navigate pin to mouth without damaging your lips, or tongue... or anything else....the sauce the snails are cooked in... is from Heaven itself ...and we decided...


... that it was time for some rice cake.. or bread...don't know what its called... its a crisp bread made of rice... and perfect to soak up all those wonderful juices!!

Last curious item on the menu.. a snail that came in a size I did not even know existed...


Now this is a much pricier item on the menu of course... but there was enough meat inside that was thankfully already sliced up for us to go around the entire group... so everyone got to try it... and slightly tougher meat than the tender seafood we were used to...but still good... 

Next it was time for us to walk to the next eating spot.. and we could have gone somewhere for some veggies as we had nothing but meat here.. but we just opted for the Hot pot.. and we chose.. the crab hot pot.. again a pricier item...but so worth it...


And thus I came to the end of my Seafood Trail ... I am so glad I ventured out to try this.. the flavours still are alive in my mind and  I hope to go back some day to try all those wonderful things again ... I hope if ever you are in Ho Chi Minh or Saigon... you will be adventurous too and choose to make Barbara and Vu your companions through this culinary feast... was certainly worth it for me

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