Under the Ba River (Da Rang river) or Chua River in Phu Yen province, there are many baby mussels. The baby mussels live below the mud or gravels under the river. They absorb the microorganism in the water for living. If the baby mussels are cooked with congee, this combination would create an excellent sweetness and flavor.
People design a hand rake which has the iron toothed bar with the distance between two teeth that is a bit wider than the baby mussel’s size. Below the toothed bar is a small net bag to keep the mussels. When digging the rake into the riverbed, you can collect a bunch of gravels with the baby mussels in the net.
The fresh baby mussels are soaked in fresh water first. Then, boil the water. The water should come to a full and rolling boil before add all the baby mussels into it. When suddenly being exposed in the hot condition, the baby mussels will open their mouths, the muscles inside is naturally separated from the shells. Use a large spoon to stir to completely separate the muscles from the shells. Stir the minced garlics on the heated pan until they have a pleasant smell. Add sliced red onions, finely chopped chilies, minced lemongrass, boiled baby mussels. Season with little fish sauce, and grounded pepper. Stir well and season more until the congee is tasty and you can have a perfect baby mussel conge.
There are many ways to cook baby mussels to eat with congee
Especially, the baby mussel congee in Phu Yen is super cheap. The big bowl is 10,000 VND and the small one is only 8,000 VND. There is a small but really famous baby mussel congee store behind the hostel T99. The owner, Mrs. Hang, said that she used up to 20 kilograms of the baby’s mussels per day because her store is the best seller. However, the income per day is only 100,000 VND. After the congee is cooked in the big cooking pot, she adds the baby mussels, seasons for the last time and keeps the pot hot with low heat. The baby mussel congee can be eaten with few sliced herbs and bean sprouts. The sweetness of the congee mixed with the slightly spicy flavor of herbs and the pleasant smell creates a luscious and distinctive taste that you could not find in other places.
Aroma, eye-catching color and delectable flavor all gather in a bowl of the Ba River baby mussel congee
In some congee stores, there are places for customers to rest after eating. The owners hang some hammocks on the trees closed to the river. You can enjoy the cool sea breezes blowing to your faces and maybe take a short nap on the swaying hammocks.