A large dish of deep-fried river sardines with a stomach full of eggs, or grilled sardines served with ginger garlic chili fish sauce, are among the tastiest sardine recipes that you should not miss in Vietnam, especially during the start of the sardine season.
Sardines can be found in the sea and brackish water areas at the Han River mouth in Da Nang City of central Vietnam.
However, during spawning season in spring, schools of sardines migrate to the An Trach irrigation dam, a national irrigation project located in the Yen river section running through the city’s Hoa Vang District, to lay eggs.
Though sardines can also easily be found in other rivers in the area, such as Tuy Loan or Cu De, local inhabitants said the sardines from the Yen River are a blessing from nature with outstanding characteristics.
Every afternoon, fishing boats sail back and forth in the Yen river section to catch sardines.
Sometimes, schools of sardines suddenly jump out of the water, splashing water and releasing a fresh smell.
|Freshly-caught sardines. Photo: Hoa Vang / Tuoi Tre
|Sardines are offered for sale near the Yen River section running through Hoa Vang District, Da Nang City in central Vietnam. Photo: Hoa Vang / Tuoi Tre
Local fishermen catch the fish and sell them at local wet markets at VND50,000 (US$2.11) per kilogram.
Given the fish’s distinguishing smell, visitors should buy sardines to grill and have them with a mixture of lemon, pepper, and salt as seasonings; or deep-fried them to have with ginger garlic chili fish sauce, along with a bowl of rice or some shots of wine.
|Grilled sardines. Photo: Hoa Vang / Tuoi Tre
|Fried sardine meatballs. Photo: Hoa Vang / Tuoi Tre
|Deep-fried sardines. Photo: Hoa Vang / Tuoi Tre
According to locals, sardine roes are the best part that will leave seafood lovers craving more.
When the sardine season comes, local residents near the Yen River always take the chances to cook a host of sardine dishes such as fried sardine meatballs, sardine salad, grilled or fried sardines, and especially mi Quang (a noodle dish originated from the central province of Quang Nam) with sardine meatballs placed atop.
Besides the popular ingredients normally served with mi Quang such as pork and freshwater shrimp, sardine meatballs and sardine egg sauce will make a bowl of mi Quang more flavorful and mouthwatering.
|Mi Quang, a noodle dish originated from the central province of Quang Nam, is served with sardine meatballs, fish sauce, and herbs. Photo: Hoa Vang / Tuoi Tre