“Tree Climbing Fish” - Explore the Enigmatic Giant Mudskipper in Vietnam Mekong Delta

“Tree Climbing Fish” - Explore the Enigmatic Giant Mudskipper in Vietnam Mekong Delta

Imagine a creature that defies conventional wisdom—a fish that effortlessly delves into the depths of water and then, miraculously, clings to the branches of trees. This mysterious entity is none other than the 'Thoi Loi,' also known as the giant mudskipper, a truly unique inhabitant of the enchanting mangrove landscapes of Vietnam.

As you embark on your journey to the Mekong Delta, a realm brimming with wonders, the giant mudskipper is but one of the captivating mysteries waiting to be uncovered. These extraordinary fish call various mangrove-rich regions in Vietnam their home, from the southern realms of Can Gio, Nhon Trach, Go Cong, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau to the northern sanctuary of Ninh Binh.

What is Giant Mudskipper?

Photo: Youtube

Giant mudskipper (Thoi Loi fish) is listed as one of six strangest animal species in the world for its prominent eyes. Ca Mau province in Mekong Delta region of Vietnam is famous for giant mudskipper which has become a favorite food of many people. It can grow to a length of 27 centimeters, occurs in marine, brackish and fresh waters. It is most frequently found along muddy shores in estuaries as well as in the tidal zones of rivers. It lives in a burrow in the mud and emerges from the burrow at low tide on sunny days. It can move quickly across a muddy surface and is capable of breathing both in and out of the water. It can also climb trees. Giant mudskipper eats fiddler crabs, shrimp, and smaller fishes.

Photo: Shutterstock

The fish can walk, jump or even climb trees. Based on such moving characteristics, they are called "walking fish". It is considered one of the six "weirdest" animal species on the planet.

Photo: Wikipedia

Savoring Local Delights: Mekong Delta's Unique Thoi Loi Fish Dishes

This fish can be processed into many delicious dishes. It is a specialty of the southwestern region and Ca Mau province in particular.

Dry giant mudskipper - Mekong Delta Unique Dishes

Photo: Kenh14

Due to moving continuously, giant mudskipper flesh is very firm and tasty. There are many giant mudskipper recipes: Braised giant mudskipper with ground black pepper (Thoi loi kho tieu), Deep-fried giant mudskipper (Thoi loi chien), Sweet and sour soup with giant mudskipper and fermented steamed rice (Lau mam thoi loi), Grilled giant mudskipper with salt and chili pepper (Thoi loi nuong tieu). They also make dry giant mudskipper (Kho thoi loi) which could be fried or grilled, then dipped in tamarind fish sauce. Dry giant mudskipper is one of the most popular gifts to bring home from Ca Mau.

In Vietnam, people use three methods to catch giant mudskippers.

The first method involves taking a worm, removing its insides, and then securing it onto a 2-meter bamboo stick using a coconut leaf. They prepare a large bucket with some ash, entice the fish to bite the worm, and deftly maneuver the stick to drop the fish into the bucket.

The second method entails catching mudskippers directly from their caves by hand.

The third approach is to trap mudskippers using conical traps made from water coconut leaves.

In the southernmost province of Ca Mau, you'll find a variety of delicious dishes prepared using giant mudskippers. These include fish braised with soy sauce, grilling with chili and salt, and creating salads. However, the most beloved and widely enjoyed dish is braised giant mudskippers with pepper.

Photo: Vietnamnet

In preparation for cooking, the fish is cleaned, scaled and gutted before being mixed with seasonings like milled pepper, fish sauce, salt, chili, sugar, caramel syrup and coconut milk.

Put the prepared ingredients in an earthen pot with sliced pork and a little water and then simmer over a low fire until the fish and pork are well-blended and brown. Lastly, add sliced spring onions. The fish is best served with hot rice or gruel and pickled cucumber and basil.

Photo: Vietnam Journey

Porridge with mudskipper

Although there are some delicious dishes from this kind of fish such as Braised mudskipper with black pepper, Hot pot with mudskipper, local people usually cook Porridge with mudskipper thanks to its comfort, easy and quick recipe.

It is totally simple to cook Chao ca keo. Just cook rice in water until the rice tender and broken, season with salt, fish sauce. Wash mudskipper carefully, no need to remove the organs of this fish. The greasy and buttery organs of mudskipper are favorite of many people. Some prefer to eat the organs than the fish meat. Then put prepared mudskipper into the pot of porridge on the oven, cook until well-done but not too tender. Add some green onion stalk to the porridge. Serve the dish in a soup bowl right after cooking is better. Top it with some chopped green onions, coriander, ground black pepper. Fish sauce for dipping, sliced/minced ginger, lime wedges and sliced chili pepper are could not missed.

Photo: Trong Dong Travel

Given its proximity to the coast, the Mekong Delta is a seafood lover's paradise. Don't miss the chance to try dishes like fresh prawns, crabs, and fish, prepared in various mouthwatering styles.

Exploring these culinary treasures is an integral part of your Mekong Delta adventure, providing you with a deeper appreciation of the region's culture and flavors.

Mekong Delta 2 days tour in non touristy villages with cycling - Travel Vietnam

The Mekong Delta beckons you to embark on an exciting journey filled with unique experiences. This enchanting region, known as the 'Rice Bowl' of Vietnam, offers a multitude of delights waiting to be discovered.

From exploring vibrant floating markets and savoring delicious local cuisine to immersing yourself in the rich culture of the delta's communities, there's something for everyone. Discover lush orchards, tranquil canals, and picturesque landscapes that will leave you in awe.

So, why wait? Pack your bags, set your compass for the Mekong Delta, and uncover the wonders that await you. Let the adventure begin, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this captivating corner of Vietnam!

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