Phan Thiet is a popular tourist destination among both locals and foreigners.
The capital of Binh Thuan Province in southeastern Vietnam is famous for its beaches and seafood delicacies, some of them so unusual that they attract gourmands from around the country.
Squid beak is one such dish.
Customers who see it in the menu for the first time get a little confused and curious about what it is and how squid beaks can be cooked. This curiosity leads them to order it, and they are hooked once they try it.
The beak, a hard, round organ found in the squid’s head, was often discarded because people thought it was inedible. But it later became a specialty in the beach town and much sought-after, especially by tourists and, for some reason, local teenagers.
One can prepare many delicacies such as stir-fried squid beak with butter and garlic (served with toasted sesame rice cracker) and stir-fried beak with satay sauce.
It also depends on the size. Large beaks are boiled, medium-sized ones are marinated with spices, skewered, and grilled on hot coal or sautéed, small ones are marinated, dipped in a batter, and deep fried.
After being done, the dish is served up with chili sauce, hoisin sauce, or plum sauce. People who love spicy food can add some satay to their sauce.
The squid beak tastes so good that it has spread to Ho Chi Minh City where too it has become a favorite among teenagers.
But because it is rather bizarre and hard to get, only some eateries like Yaki Yaki Restaurant and Oc Dao Restaurant serve it.
Yaki Yaki, located in District 11, is small but a good place for small groups.
It serves squid and octopus, grilled, pan-fried in tamarind sauce, and fried.
But squid beak is the delicacy here, grilled with chili and salt or satay, dipped in batter and deep-fried, stir-fried with butter and served with toasted sesame rice cracker, or served with carrot daikon pickles, laska leaf, and chili sauce.
A skewer costs VND10,000.
Oc Dao Restaurant in District 1 specializes in snail and seafood dishes.
Squid beak is stir-fried with butter and served with bread. But go to the restaurant late and it is likely to be sold out because it is very popular.
By Nguyet Anh, Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the June 1st issue of our print edition, Vietweek)