Cactus - A unique specialty from Quang Nam

Not just to fry or make salad, cactuses are also likely to be cooked into various delicious dishes. Among foods that are made of cactuses all around the country, Quang Nam’s cactus dishes particularly enchant visitors when they visit this wonderful land.

Almost all cactuses are succulent plants which are characterized by their habitat of living in extremely dry environments; thus they appear densely in Central Vietnam, and Quang Nam in particular. The land’s cactuses have long been considered a typical food and a specialty. Dishes made of cactuses vary (since the fresh material is easily found); the dishes do not require complex cooking skills and recipes, yet particularly attractive and appetizing.
Before the main cooking process, cactuses are gotten rid of the first outer layer which is filled with thorns and a green viscous substance covered outside. Then they are cut into slices and boiled preliminarily until the trunks and branches get slightly yellow. As soon as the cactuses dry up, they can be used to make various delicious dishes.

The most typical cactus dish in Quang Nam must be the braised cactus. Cactuses after drying up are brought to be braised with pork fat. Flavor the food with some ordinary spices at one’s taste, then we have a scrumptious braised cactus. To vary the dish, optional extra ingredients such as fresh chilies, dried scrimps or chopped pork can be added.
However, on hot summer days, sour cactus soup remains as the ideal antipyretic dish. Beside the cut dried up cactus slices, now lie thin slices of catfish or snakehead (a kind of fresh water fish) which are already seasoned. Braise cactus and fish slices together in a pot slightly before pouring some water into. When the mixture boils for about 3 minutes, add some corianders and spring onions to make the soup more eye-catching. Then you have a wonderful sour cactus soup pot. Although not any further kind of sour ingredient is added, the soup still tastes moderately sour, enough to drive away the uncomfortable heat of a hot summer day in the Quang’s land. The sour taste of the soup is not as intense at lemons’ or dracontomelums’. Besides, the soup is characterized by the slight tough taste of cactus pieces and the typical sweet taste of freshwater fish.

Catus dishes from Quang Nam Catus dishes - Quang Nam

Apart from typical cactus dishes as mentioned,  braised cactus or sour cactus soup, Quang Nam locals have creatively come up with a brand new dish of cactus, which is cactus salad. The materials still remain at dried up cactus pieces. Boil the cactus pieces deeply, then ladle it out into a plate or big bowl, pour over some ground roasted peanuts and mix it all together. There you have a simple delicious plate of cactus salad. The dish is particularly tasty, though it does not require a lot of time to make. The cactus salad has been known for being an ideal dish for local fishermen to enjoy along with some rice wine in a wet rainy day. The special salad’s unique taste seems to match perfectly with rice wine and altogether they make up a great intimate gathering for friends. And the happiest person might be the host or hostess who does not have to spend much time making complex fancy dishes. 
In former days, cactuses were foods of famine relief for Quang Nam poor people. When their lives got better and brighter, cactus dishes became specialties and unique dishes which were just used to treat the house’s guests of honor. If you happen to be in Quang Nam once, don’t forget to drop by a local food store and get to taste this special food, cactus.

Catus Dishes from Quang Nam - Preview


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