Ca loc chien rau nhuc, fried snakehead fish with water mimosa! Another part of my recent foray into the wonderful world of Vietnamese cuisine. Much like Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, I can almost see Vietnam. I am though alas in Phnom Penh. Every now and again Vietnamese influenced food is not enough, and you have to go whole hog.
This was how I found myself at Magnolia Vietnamese Restaurant in Phnom Penh. I’ll delve into what a fab place this is later, but today I will talk abut the main dish that I had – ca loc chien rau nhuc AKA Fried Snakehead fish with water mimosa.
For starters though we had the Bánh bột lọc, which you can read about here
What is ca loc chien rau nhuc
Well I already kinda sneered that one, it is fried snakehead fish with water mimosa, but what is a snakehead fish? And indeed what is water mimosa?
What is snakehead fish?
Snakehead fish. If you want to go all David Attenborough then read the wikipedia link here . Basically it is a reasonably sized river fish that is found in the Mekong River among other places. This makes it is favorite in Cambdoia, Vietnam and Laos. Ca loc chien rau nhuc is known as ត្រីបឹងកញ្ឆែត
It is a clean white fish that is not too fishy and not too bony. There are bones yes, but it does not take way from the taste.
What then is Water Mimosa?
Th menu did not actually describe it as water mimosa, but as like a neptune vegetable. My Khmer friend described it the best though as “like morning glory, but better”.
If you have never heard of morning glory it is not the act of a “morning erection”, but a very popular Khmer vegetable used in lots of dishes. Seriously Google “what is morning glory” and see what you get.
Water mimosa is basically an invasive plant, that gets its name from neptune, the old god of the sea. Its full name being Neptunia oleracea. It grows near the waters edge, and can go as much as 6 feet tall. It tastes like a nice vegetable rather than seaweed. And as my friend put it “better than morning glory”.
How do you make Ca loc chien rau nhuc/ត្រីបឹងកញ្ឆែត
You take a tone of ingredients (as pictured), which includes lemongrass and mix it all together until you get Kreung……, or at least that is what they call it in Cambodian. As a mixed Khmer/Vietnamese dish I am having to do the best with the information I have at hand.
Serving Ca loc chien rau nhuc/ត្រីបឹងកញ្ឆែត
It comes out on small hot-plate, so therefore still cooking. The secret is to add the water mimosa after you the fish has cooked. So like the best of these kind of dishes it not only comes out piping hot, but you turn the hot off when you are ready.
And how did it taste?
Ca loc chien rau nhuc was our main course and I have to say it was really good. I am not a fan of bony fish and whilst it was bony, it wasn’t too bony. I was also expecting something overtly spicy, which it was certainly not at all. Overall a clean and fling dish. Lemongrass makes everything better, and the water mimosa was really good. I’m not a huge vegetable man, but morning glory and now water mimosa are certainly n my liked list.
Everything I had at Magnolia was great, but ca loc chien rau nhuc/made a fabulous main course.
Next stop multiple desserts….