LAND AND PEOPLE Updated at 10:11:38 07/14/2020  (Views:  129 )
Phan Thiet

Phan Thiet: stories of anecdotal “Lau Tha” and legendary “delicious fish sauce”

BTO - Binh Thuan tourism sector is struggling to revive this “non-smoke” industry after the long-time impact of Covid-19. Since then, a number of tourism stimulus packages are promoted and introduced to visitors, especially the Vietnamese tourists. One of the most appealing elements to lure domestic visitors to Binh Thuan destination is its food specialties. The locality is not only famous for its dishes processed from fresh seafood, but it is also well-known for many legendary stories about human life, sea and the people.

From an anecdote to a well-known “Lau tha” hotpot

On the very first days, a majority of tourists to Binh Thuan are usually heard of common sayings, such as: "Go there to enjoy half-dried squid". In fact, "Half-dried squid" has become a brand name inside the administrative geography of Binh Thuan province. Unfortunately, its “geographical indication” is sunk into oblivion when it is transported beyond the administrative boundaries of Binh Thuan, The most valuable thing to determine to set up its own “geographical indication” for each food specialties. Meanwhile, “Lau tha” hotpot is seemingly less “noisier” than “Half-dried squid”, but its vitality is long-lasting thanks to its flavour and full of emotion.

Khong Nhat Huy, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City, told that: “I had a chance to enjoy “Lau tha” at a resort in Ham Tien when I visited the province in 2004. The name of

“Lau tha” was quite strange as I had never heard of it before. However, I was really impressed by its good-look arrangement and delicious and strange taste”.

According to the resort’s waiter, “lau tha” represents for 5 elements of Gold - Wood - Water - Fire - Earth. More interestingly, the dish was invented by a famous Master Chef Yan Can Cook when he came to Binh Thuan to promote tourism, he added.

However, it was then corrected by Ms. Cherry Vy - Marketing Director of Seahorse Resort: “The hotpot was created by a chef named Hai Kitchen. It has become famous quickly by the Master Chef Yan Can Cook after he enjoyed and praised it publicly.

In those days, "Lau tha" dish is quickly included in most of resorts' menus. It is considered as a special dish for Phan Thiet - Binh Thuan destination. The dish "Phan Thiet's Lau tha" has been always present at national and domestic fairs and festivals, creating strong impression and imprinting in the hearts of visitors.

Lau tha hotpot - a food speciality of Phan Thiet - Binh Thuan

“In fact, "Lau tha" is a rustic food in the fishing village of Mui Ne. Since tourism has approached to this place, it has been exploited and "embellished" more to make it as present. Its look and nuance are then also changed a little bit depending on each travel business”, explained Mr. Nguyen Van Khoa - Chairman of Binh Thuan Tourism Association.

By any way, all stories related to “Phan Thiet’s Lau tha” have attracted a lot of people. The more the stories, the more mysterious and compelling stories appear. To some extent, "Phan Thiet’s lau tha" has so far confirmed its brand name and it may be stamped with “geographical indication” if it is visualized from the folk stories.

Just typing the two words of "Lau tha" on the search engine tool on the internet, the results will immediately suggest "Phan Thiet hotpot" (or "Mui Ne Lau tha "). No matter how trying to find more, there is no "Vung Tau Lau tha" or "Nha Trang Lau tha". Meanwhile, "half dried squid" isn't monopolistic to anyplace.

"Lau tha" is properly named on the Wikipedia page which "defines": "Hotpot or seafood hotpot of Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Vietnam" which no other region has the same names.

Legendary story of flavored fish sauce

 It’s not much surprised to hear a common statement: “If you smell a strange odor while you are on the car, it’s definitely that you have arrived in Phan Thiet city”. And the fact showed that, it could be easily find the two impressive sights when you travelled here before 1975. The former was salt-fields to the north of Phan Thiet, the latter was hundreds of jars placed orderly to the south. Those images have entered photography, making unique features of Phan Thiet fish sauce. 

A very delicious fish sauce brand-name

Included in a cultural story, writer Le Van Nghia has ever written: The industry of making fish sauce in Binh Thuan plays a unique role for a century.

Since over 300 years ago, villages had been founded. Such hundred years plus the land, water and people of Phan Thiet made a unique brand of fish sauce. A businessman Tran Ngoc Dung, Doctor of Economics, clearly perceived the cultural value of fish sauce so he did not hesitate to devote himself and try to "build up" a modern museum of fish sauce. Since Phan Thiet fish-sauce products have been leveled up, it is now available at many resorts.

Every dish has its own value in terms of nutrition, aesthetics and humanistic story inside. For Binh Thuan province, even just an anecdote like a Lau Tha hotpot or a legendary fish sauce, it is still enough to sing the invitation song. And with the turning point after Covid-19, it is possible to add a new and strange product from the immense sea. If so, visitors truly admire 'Oh wow! Mui Ne.”

Lau Tha hotpot is a folk dish stylized by the professional chefs of The Cliff resort and elevate it to become a unique dish possessing typical flavor of Mui Ne beach. Displayed on a flat basket lining with banana leaves, then rice noodles, vegetables, sliced boiled pork, sliced fried egg, and sesame rice paper. The main ingredient of Lau Tha is fresh deep herring – one of the specialty fish of Phan Thiet. Slice through the fish and have it marinated. All the above ingredients will be served with a special sauce – the mixture of Vietnamese banana, peanut, etc. Lau Tha broth cooked from fresh shrimps, especially lobster oil that turn the hot pot into attractive bright red color and fascinating fragrance. The Cliff resort is introducing Lau Tha to our gourmet customers who always want to discover and search for new flavors in Vietnamese diverse culinary arts

Translated by Ul (Source: Binh Thuan Newspaper)

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