Street Market Prawns – 84 of 365

Prawns at the Street Market

My long slide into street market culture began almost two years ago with a few pieces of fruit every now and then acting as a sort of gateway drug.   Bushels of fresh herbs and vegetables came along next in the past few weeks to seduce me further into the market’s tentacles.   Mounting confidence finally led me to actually hit the hard stuff and buy seafood right from a vendor set up next to slabs of raw meat hanging from hooks.  Though I can’t speak for a plate of pig guts doing their thing in the heat, some live prawns jumping around a metal pan looked fresh enough.  About a dollar bought 14 of these grey things complete with eight inch antenna looking appendages.

As I carried the moving plastic bag into the elevator, a fellow American backed away while looking at me like I was nuts.  She asked what was causing all the commotion in the tiny sack, and I explained where these wiggling critters had spawned.  After a few seconds of deep thought, her dismissive response was simply, “what market?”  You know…the one behind us here…Down the alley…You can probably see it from your apartment…  She said she had been living here two years, knew of no such place and volunteered she would never step foot beyond the driveway of our highrise anyhow.

The Final Product

Oh well.  Her loss really.  She’s missing out on a wonderful side of Vietnam not found in our ground floor grocery store.   But I will admit I really am so far beyond my comfort zone watching live prawns pulse on a cutting board.  Two even broke loose and jumped ship to the floor.  Somehow they sensed their imminent demise, and a few even gave a last ditch flip off the cutting board as they neared the boiling water.

These very sweet prawns made a delicious addition to some stir fried cucumber, onion, garlic, chili pepper, sugar, soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil and perilla leaf.   In fact, this recipe is the same one we sampled recently but just with the addition of seafood.  Serving the spicy concoction over broad rice noodles sold in a ramen like pack proved a great choice, and yes, the street market can provide several delicious servings for under $1.75.

I am now fully addicted to shopping with the locals.  No intervention in the world will get me to change my buying habits now.   Finally after almost two years in Vietnam, I am beginning to feel a connection with my surroundings.   Food really can bring people together.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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