The lives of Phu Quy islanders are closely tied to the sea, making seafood an indispensable part of their daily meals. Phu Quy cuisine offers a delightful taste of coastal culinary delights, where apart from rice and some raw vegetables, each meal typically revolves around one main dish made from fish, seafood, or meat, prepared through frying, simmering, or making sour soups.
One common soup in the islanders’ meals is a sweet soup, also known as “canh é.” “Canh chua” (sour soup) is another favorite dish among the islanders, made from ingredients like tamarind, tomatoes, bean sprouts, scallions, and cooked with sea fish.
Additionally, dipping fish sauce is always present in Phu Quy residents’ meals. They can buy fish sauce from various brands in Phan Thiet, or they can even make their own fish sauce, which is cleaner and more delicious.
Phu Quy is renowned for its diverse and valuable marine seafood, which is skillfully prepared into many delicious dishes that attract tourists visiting the island. The fragrant and delicious emperor crabs and moon crabs are often steamed and served with a mixture of salt, pepper, and lime to extract the meat and use it in cooking porridge with various spices.
Red grouper is one of the most popular fish varieties in the area due to its white, sweet, and firm flesh. It is usually steamed with a little scallion, ginger, and chili soy sauce. Currently, Phu Quy is the only island district of Binh Thuan province to successfully breed red grouper in cages floating on the sea.
On Phu Quy Island, people also prepare various types of triggerfish (porcupine fish, pufferfish, filefish) into delicious dishes such as triggerfish porridge, triggerfish stir-fried with lemongrass and chili, and triggerfish cooked with tamarind. Triggerfish is highly poisonous if not properly processed, and after removing the skin and internal organs, the remaining meat is used for eating, while the fish skin is sold for making handicrafts.
Snail salad is also considered a fascinating dish on the island, made from various delicious snail types such as rock snails, whelks, helmet snails, finger snails, and breast snails, served with grilled rice paper and raw vegetables. Moreover, Phu Quy also offers many other enticing specialties such as fresh squid, sun-dried squid, dishes made from sea urchins, and jellyfish salad.
Sea cucumbers (sea ginseng) are the most favored and expensive delicacies, as they provide high nutritional value and have medicinal properties, beneficial for kidney and nourishing vitality. Sea cucumbers are often cooked with traditional herbal ingredients, along with pigeon meat, coq au vin, chicken feet, deer tendons, or soaked in wine.
Visitors to the island are not only captivated by the delicious and fresh seafood but are also allured by the “Phu Quy Hot Beef” dish. Cattle on Phu Quy are raised in a free-range manner directly on the island, fed on natural grass, resulting in aromatic, delicious, and tender beef. The preparation of this dish also adds a unique culinary feature to the island. When diners come to a restaurant, they only need to buy a suitable amount of fresh beef they want to eat, and the owner will cut and sell it to them, with raw vegetables, grilled rice paper, and beef porridge provided for free.
Culinary culture is one of the distinctive aspects of each region. With abundant marine resources and indigenous elements shaped through ancient times, these factors contribute to enriching and diversifying Phu Quy’s culinary culture.