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Three fish dishes for a chilly dinner in Dien Bien

Under the cold of the highland evening, gathering by the fire to eat grilled fish Pa Pinh Top is an unforgettable experience.

Not only famous for the Dien Bien Phu campaign, Muong Thanh field, Nam Rung river… Dien Bien is also known for many delicious dishes typical of the Northwest region, of which the most famous are fish dishes such as Pa. Ninh Top, Pa Giang or fried stream fish.

Pa Binh Top

Three fish dishes for a chilly dinner in Dien Bien
Pa Binh Top is the name of grilled fish in Thai. Photo: Dien Bien Tourism Center

This is an easy-to-make grilled fish dish, with a unique flavor thanks to the skillful blend of available spices of the Northwest mountains.

To make Pa Pinh Top in accordance with the Black Thai standard, you must choose 1-1.5 kg sturgeon. The fish is pecked on the back, then rub a layer of roasted salt inside the fish body for rich meat. After that, the chef also has to add to the fish’s belly a mixture of spices including: mac Khen (wild pepper), crushed fresh roasted chili, scallions, herbs, and finely chopped coriander and then left to infuse. Fish is braced with bamboo and grilled on charcoal.

The finished product is a golden cooked fish, which must be removed whole, not broken. The meat must be rich, with the sweet and fatty taste of fish, the spiciness of chili and the aroma of onions, mac Khen…

Pa Giang

Dried fish when eaten is torn into bite-sized pieces. Photo: Dien Bien Tourism Center

Pa Giang in Thai means dried fish, also a traditional dish of local people. The dish is made from fish caught in rivers and streams and also dissected the back. The fish is not scaled, but is marinated with spices, then dried on the kitchen floor.

When drying, you must turn the inside of the fish to the top, the skin to the bottom to cook the fish slowly. When eating, the fish will be grilled or reheated. The flesh of the fish is sweet and chewy, mixed with a bit of smoke from the kitchen and the aroma of the mac ken.

Fried stream fish

Fried stream fish of Dien Bien people. Photo: Dien Bien Tourism Center

This is also a familiar dish on the tray of rice, which is treated by locals. Stream fish has soft bones, firm meat, and a greasy taste when eaten. Therefore, this is a dish that is loved by many diners.

When cooked, the fish turns yellow, eye-catching and fragrant. Fatty, crunchy fish head, fragrant and sweet fish meat, crispy fish bones and often chewed with bones. People often dip fish in a fish sauce mixed with lemon and chili, eat it with bay leaves and hot rice.

In addition to the three traditional fish dishes of the local people, coming to Dien Bien today, visitors can also enjoy two more new, more modern fish dishes, which are salt-roasted sturgeon and salmon spring rolls.

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