As a coastal country, Vietnam is no stranger to seafood. One of the most famous dishes in the region is, of course, the La Vong Fish Pie.
While it’s no pie, per se, the dish packs a punch in every bite that it’s listed as one of the must-try dishes by the New York Times when visiting the country. It’s no wonder tourists from all over the globe flock to Hanoi to try this speciality dish.
What is La Vong Fish Pie?
A simple dish, usually eaten as a complement to alcohol, La Vong Fish Pie stars a grilled fish alongside a selection of Vietnamese herbs and vegetables. While the basis of La Vong Fish Pie sounds easy, the secret ingredient lies in the seasoning and herbs used to coat the slices of fish before it hits the grill.
Typically, the fish used includes common fish like trout or mackerel. However, for an authentic fish pie, the crystal-eyed catfish “anh vu” from the Bach Hac river is best for this dish.
After a tedious process of removing flesh from bones, the fish is coated in a mix of seasoning, which includes shrimp paste, fish sauce, turmeric and dill. The combination of all these ingredients delivers a musky and smoky aroma that is key to making La Vong Fish Pie irresistible.
When marinating is complete, one would throw the moistened fish chunks for a quick deep-fry before it emerges in a beautiful golden colour.
History of La Vong Fish Pie
Of all Vietnamese delicacies, La Vong Fish Pie appears to have the richest history, with over 100 years and counting!
Back in the 19th century, a member of the Doan family was known for serving grilled fish to the insurgent army. While he was a great cook, he regularly tasted before brought his food to entertain his guests at the table. It was in these dining exchanges that he noticed how his grilled fish was always a crowd favourite.
With the support of his wife and family, Mr Doan turned his speciality into a business, and the grilled fish recipe became a hit. Since then, the dish remains popular to this day. So much so, that the street it operated on was renamed Cha Ca, referring to grilled fish in Vietnamese.
Some speculate that the words “La Vong” was actually the name of the God of Fisherman, La Vong – Khuong Tu Nha. As a way to celebrate the greatness of the dish, Cha Ca La Vong was born.
How to Eat La Vong Fish Pie
In luxurious Vietnamese restaurants, diners are allowed to watch La Vong Fish Pie being made before their eyes.
A waiter would carry a portable gas stove and a small frying pan to the table. This is where the turmeric and dill seasoned fish would be grilled and fried, before a handful of dill, green onions and cilantro are added to the sizzling pan. So not only is La Vong Fish Pie a delight to the tastebuds, the art of cooking it is just as much a feast for the eyes. In a short span of 5 minutes, the smoky La Vong Fish Pie is ready to be served.
Where to Find La Vong Fish Pie in Malaysia
Though it would be unrealistic to expect authentic Hanoian cuisine in the city, one need not worry for foodpanda is here to save the day! With a selection of Vietnamese restaurants on hand, surely they’d be one place that will give you a taste of the famous La Vong Fish Pie!