When hearing Thai people in Mai Chau introduce steamed fish with papaya leaves, many diners shook their heads and refused, afraid of the bitter and difficult-to-eat taste of this leaf.
Thai ethnic cuisine in Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) is famous near and far for its diversity and appeal from form to taste. Dishes such as Lam rice, grilled chicken/duck in a bamboo tube, snail cake, gai cake, upland sticky rice, grilled chicken with bamboo shoots, and sour bamboo shoot soup… appear quite popular in eateries, restaurants, and resorts in Hoa Binh and is popular with diners.
However, there is another delicious dish of Thai people that not all tourists know about, which is steamed carp with papaya leaves.
“When we introduced steamed fish with papaya leaves, many diners shook their heads and refused. They thought that this type of leaf was very bitter, not delicious, difficult to eat, and was only used as medicine,” said Mr. Trinh Phuc Man, owner. said a resort in Xat Khoe commune, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
The appearance of this dish is not attractive at first glance, it looks like a cake, poorly packaged. The outer layer of leaves is not beautifully green but dark.
“At first, customers criticized it, but after enjoying it, many people were surprised because the fish dish steamed with papaya leaves is very delicious, flavorful, and unique. Male papaya leaves and flowers are very bitter, but when properly prepared, they only taste slightly. dark, has a sweet aftertaste. This is one of the most popular dishes at my restaurant today,” said Mr. Man.
During holidays and New Year, especially the celebration of new rice, the Thai ethnic people’s rice tray always includes steamed carp with papaya leaves.
The ingredients for this dish include: Carp, usually choose a piece on the upper body, close to the head to have few bones and a wide belly; Leaves of male papaya; Some herbs such as basil, coriander, dill, Chinese coriander, green onions; Lemongrass, ginger, mac khen, chili, pepper, dried onion.
According to Ms. Lo Huong Giang, an ethnic Thai in Xam Khoe commune (Mai Chau, Hoa Binh), currently a chef in a local resort: People often choose fish 2-3kg or more because of the meat. delicious, sweet, firm. The fish is cleaned, cut into medium pieces to wrap in papaya leaves.
After preparing and marinating the fish, the chef wraps it in papaya leaves, adds a layer of banana leaves and wraps it like a banh chung. “This step must be done very carefully so that the fish juice does not flow out while steaming,” Ms. Giang said.
Steaming time is from 1.5 to 2 hours so that the fish is cooked evenly, the papaya leaves are soft and the fish juice is absorbed evenly.
When serving customers, staff will bring the entire wrapped fish package and place it on the table. When peeling off the banana leaf layer and using chopsticks to gently separate the papaya leaf skin to both sides, diners will see a thick piece of fish with pure white meat, steaming hot, and a rich, greasy aroma radiating out. hit the nose.
Bringing a piece of fish to your mouth, diners will feel the slightly bitter taste of papaya leaves, seeping into the sweet fish meat, imbued with spices such as pepper and chili. The fish has a sweet taste, not bitter or “scary” like many people think.
According to Oriental medicine, papaya leaves have cold properties, a slightly bitter taste, and a pungent smell. They help clear heat, detoxify, cool the liver, nourish the spleen and are a laxative. This type of leaf is considered a “miracle drug”.
Photo,Video: Internet (Vinlove.net)