Looking for an authentic, Vietnamese omelette recipe? Be inspired by the food and customs of the Mekong Delta and make this healthy, “full of crunch” omelette. Our travels in the Mekong delta, the food bowl of southern Vietnam, revealed an inspiring people, full of industry and a wide diversity of foods. An area just waiting to be explored. And resulted in this recipe of a Mekong inspired omelette with peanut sauce
Our introductory post to Vietnam details a short, modern history of an ancient culture. And this quick easy Mekong inspired omelette with peanut sauce will get you in the mood to explore more Vietnamese cuisine.
We crossed into Vietnam from Cambodia at the Ha Tien border control at the very south of both countries. For those of you wondering about Cambodia it is a great country to visit and we will be featuring it in future a month at Compass and Fork.
The Mekong Delta – the Contrast of Cambodia and Vietnam
In Cambodia, at the Ha Tien border post it was dry, almost tree-less with very little industry or agriculture (except pepper).
Within 100 yards of entering into Vietnam it was very obvious that here was a lush countryside, full of industry, confidence and a can do attitude. I have never seen a greater contrast in 100 yards like this one. Welcome to the Mekong Delta of Vietnam! Home to storks, basa fish farms, the famous floating markets and a spectacular drive in to HCMC (Saigon), which surely contains more motor bikes than anywhere else on our planet.
We were met on the Vietnamese side by our guide, Mr Truc and our driver, early in the morning, keen for our 3 day private tour of the Mekong Delta.
Mr Truc explained that on gaining power in 1975, the communists mandated that every person living in the delta must contribute free labor to construct a network of irrigation canals, criss-crossing the delta. There were targets (for each family) of soil to be moved each day as there was no earthmoving equipment. This went on for many years. This might sound draconian and maybe it was but now the people of the Mekong Delta, the most heavily populated region of Vietnam, have a veritable Garden of Eden growing all sorts of food and supporting many industries. Communist (in name only) Vietnam is a vibrant place with a can do, capitalist attitude that is reaping the rewards now of some sacrifices made by prior generations.
Here are some highlights of our trip through the Mekong Delta with the first port of call being the Tra Su cajuput forest.
Tra Su Cajuput Forest
The forest is renowned for not only its almost-untouched natural beauty but also its sanctuary of flora and fauna. We took a boat trip into the forest, and you immediately feel like you are harmonizing with nature because of the impressive arrays of cajuputs (a type of melaleuca), the fragrance of the flowers and the music-like noise of birds, insects and animals making for a relaxed and comfortable boat ride. It is a cacophony of sound!
We observed many water-based birds and I have to say that it would prove to be the most relaxing activity we undertook in Vietnam.
Cham fishing Village (Chau Doc)
Next stop was to visit a Cham (Muslim) fishing village and visit nearby floating homes specializing in basa fish production just outside the town of Chau Doc.
Here the Mekong River is extremely wide. Our boat trip to the Cham fishing village on an island reveals a traditional village, where all residents still wear traditional clothing. Here you’ll see women wearing turbans made of Cham-style fabrics that they weave – during dry season – under their homes that stand on stilts. We saw some impressive woven products. We also visited the equally impressive nearby mosque.
On our return, we visited a basa fishing farm in the middle of the Mekong River. This was actually a floating home, semi-permanently anchored in the river. Underneath the floating home was a basa fish farm. The river is deep and the floating home had a semi-rigid cage full of basa. I have never seen so many fish contained in such a small area, maybe too many in such a small area. It was mind-boggling! And what is basa?
It’s catfish, pure and simple. Basa is a modern name for catfish, forced on the Vietnamese people by the American government. The Vietnamese were selling catfish into the US. American catfish businesses were concerned their market share would drop and pressured the US government to do something. The government passed a law dictating that only American-reared catfish could be marketed in the US as “catfish”. Not to be dissuaded, the Vietnamese changed the name to basa and now basa outsells catfish by a huge margin in the US. Talk about unintended consequences! But then isn’t that always the case when governments interfere?
Cai Ring Floating Markets
Early in the morning, aboard a small boat, we went sightseeing at Cai Rang, the biggest and most colorful floating market in the Mekong delta. From the early morning, the waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with fruits, vegetables, plants, foods, etc… Sellers hang a sample of what they stock from the top of a long pole so that buyers can see from a distance what they are selling.
We also visited nearby Dong Phu, Binh Hoa Phuoc and An Binh islands located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. These evergreen islands in the middle of the Mekong River contain large networks of meandering streams through mangrove swamps. Small canoes, all operated by women, meander through remote villages, offering a unique glimpse of island life.
Vietnamese Omelette Mekong Delta Style
After our very relaxing and impressive introduction to Vietnam, we lunched at a café that served omelettes, similar to the quick easy Mekong inspired omelette with Peanut sauce detailed below. What was unique about it, was that the omelette was served as a communal dish. You took some hot omelette and placed it on a dry rice paper roll. You threw on some fresh herbs and spices and wrapped it all up inside the rice paper. The warm omelette juices soften the rice paper but not all of the outside parts, which were still rather crunchy. You dip the omelette into some peanut sauce and start eating. It is a slightly messy way to eat but the flavors and crunch of the omelette were sublime.
We enjoyed the experience and hope that you do to. Please let us know what you think of our Mekong inspired omelette with peanut sauce.
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