Blood Clams of Phú Yên
The scientific name for Blood Clam is “Anadara granosa”. Blood Clams are a variety of ark clams that belong to the genus Anadara of the Arcidae family. These clams are also known as the Blood cockle due to the red haemoglobin liquid in their body.
Adult Blood Clams can grow to a maximum length between 5 cm and 6 cm, and 4 cm to 5 cm wide. It is found throughout the Indo-Pacific region from the eastern coast of South Africa northwards and eastwards to Southeast Asia, Australian, Polynesia, and up to northern Japan.
Generally, Blood clams prefer to live at a depth of 20 meters, but they will concentrate in the near seashore region, where the land will be in a dry condition for 6 to 10 hours per day and night. They are typically clam varieties that naturally live in a region of the salty bottom with moderately low salinity and the area of a seashore which is covered at high tide and uncovered at low tide.
Blood clams are filter feeders and shallow burrowers. Their nourishing habit is associated with the bottom nourish where they exist. Blood clams mostly feed on detritus, unicellular algae and phytoplankton.
The mating season in Blood clams starts from August and continues until February of the subsequent year. Both male and female Blood clams attain sexual maturity after 1 or 2 years of their birth. The female clam is capable of producing 518,400 to 2,313,200 eggs during each breeding cycle. They can be adjusted to the salinity of 14 to 300 and with the temperature, ranging from 20 Celsius to 30 Celsius.
The average lifespan of Blood clams ranges from 3 years to 4 years and this may increase, according to the location they live.
The role of Blood clam in the ecosystem
Blood clams are filter feeders, and they may accumulate toxins, bacteria and viruses present in the surrounding environment. This has important implications for harvesting, and clams should only be eaten if they are taken from unpolluted areas. It also means that clams have the potential to act as environmental indicators and to help gauge the health of an ecosystem.
In their role as filter feeders, clams also provide an important link in the food web between the primary producers, such as phytoplankton, and smaller carnivores, such as birds, crabs and lobsters. Clams also provide another important food web service – when they are filtering the water, they help prevent blooms of phytoplankton that reduce oxygen availability for fish and many other species.
Where to try Blood clams?
In the Phú Yên Province, located on the south-central coast, is the first point on the Vietnamese mainland to welcome the sun every morning. There’s a famous saying here: “One cannot say that they have visited Phú Yên without having tasted Ô Loan’s blood cockles.”
Ô Loan Lagoon (Đầm Ô Loan) is about 1200 hectare and is known to be home to certain kinds of endangered species of birds. However, being an inland situated brackish lagoon, naturally, seafood is the local cuisine, particular culinary specialities such as blood clams, red oysters, flower crabs, cuttlefish, jellyfish and a type of red algae that is used in food which are then served in different, unique ways only the province can offer. Situated to the south of Chí Thạnh fishing village in Tuy An Commune, Ô Loan Lagoon is surrounded by greenery in the form of paddy fields, casuarinas forest, mountain ranges and An Hải Islet.
The blood clams appear all year round in Ô Loan Lagoon, but most local fishermen recommend visitors to eat these blood clams during the in-between dry and rainy seasons because the blood clams’ meat is most delicious in this particular period. Caught from this beautiful swamp, the blood cockles are bigger and sweeter than the ones elsewhere.
Since ancient times, Ô Loan Lagoon has been famous for the blood clams porridge dish. Nowadays, it’s favourable by locals and visitors, served lightly charcoal-grilled accompanied with fresh Vietnamese mint, grilled sesame rice-paper and salt-pepper mixture with lime wedges.
What more to try in Phú Yên ?
Rice Vermicelli with Pig Tripe (Bánh Hỏi Lòng Heo)
Thinly steamed rice vermicelli woven into bundles is best served with the boiled cuts of a pig that become a speciality in Phú Yên. Particularly in this province, the thin rice vermicelli (Bánh hỏi) is made in a sophisticated and careful procedure that results in the very tasteful bundles topped with scallions and eaten with grilled pork, roasted meat, or boiled pig cuts. This food cannot be missed in any festivals, family events, rituals in the community temples, etc.
Cooked Tuna Eyes (Mắt Cá Ngừ Đại Dương)
In almost any talk about dishes of the cooked tuna eyes, people think about Phú Yên province. Though it is a symbolic food of the region, it sometimes makes guests afraid because the tuna eyeballs are so big. Nonetheless, the single taste can convince everybody of the unique flavour and it will leave a strong impact. This favourite delicacy must be processed in a delicate and skilful way in order to bring out the best culinary experience.
Phú Yên Chicken Rice (Cơm Gà Phú Yên)
Travelling to Tuy Hòa City, it seems that almost everybody tells each other to visit the eateries of chicken rice in Lê Thánh Tôn street of Ms.Tuyết Nhung which have been specialized in this speciality for years. During the peak hours, patrons have to stand in a queue to wait for their turns to eat the food. The most unique thing of this food might be the quality of the chicken that is carefully selected of the breed as well as the secret chilli dipping sauce. Besides, a variety of condiments and garnishes to be eaten with the chicken rice, such as slices of cucumber, fresh herbs, the fermented onions, chilli, and garlic.
The shop sells about 100 kg of rice and 200 kg of chicken every day according to the owner. The restaurant is open from about 7 am and sold until 3 pm. Usually, guests have many options: chicken thighs, chicken wings, chicken skin or internal organs including heart, liver, chicken gizzard, pre-mature egg… Each dish of rice here costs from 20,000-35,000 VND.
One Day-Sun dried Beef with Salted Yellow Ant (Bò Một Nắng, Muối Kiến Vàng)
If the Northwest of Vietnam has “Thịt trâu gác bếp” (buffalo meat) and Đà Nẵng City has the fried beef, then Phú Yên province is proud of the half-dried beef served with yellow salted ant. The beef in this area is taken from the cows that eat the grass of the mountains, as the result, the beef is beefy and gamier. With the right cuts and quality of beef, the chefs will spice it with seasonings, chilli, garlic, and fried onions. Then, they will let it dry under the sun for one day-sun or dry it for two hours. After that, the half-dried beef will be mixed with the yellow salted yellow ant– which is also a speciality of Phú Yên. Ethnic minorities in Krông Pa — Gia Lai (Người dân tộc thiểu số) take the harvested ants nest to make salt and chilli mixture. The salty hot chilli pepper combined with acidity from the ants’ nest is the key to ensure its unique flavour, stay unique. For the best result, the half-day dried beef must be charcoal-grilled before serving.
Oyster Porridge (Cháo Hàu)
Have you ever heard the quote: “Good wood is better than good paint?” The same can apply to these tasty oysters in Phú Yên. The outside appearance of an oyster is so unattractive and rough but once the shells are removed, they are rewarded with the oyster’s delicate, texture, rich flavour, juicy with an exquisite flesh.
To make satisfying oyster porridge, chefs use rice and sticky rice. The rice is soaked and cleaned, then cooked until it just begins to break down. The resulting grains remain separate from each other, similar to the Teochew style porridge as “muê” dialect spoken in Chaoshan. The oysters are washed and marinated, then stir-fried with oiled scallions. After that, they are poured into the porridge. The smooth-creamy and rich oyster porridge is absolutely delicious and comforting.
Swimming Crab of Ô Loan Lagoon
Swimming Crab of Ô Loan Lagoon is widely one of the favourite seafood when coming to Phú Yên province. Swimming Crab here is fresh and sweet. Unlike live mud crabs, the blue swimmer rarely lives long out of the water and is one of the few crab species not sold live. Blue swimmer crabs – sometimes called sand crabs – have the sweetest flesh of any variety. These peculiar-looking crustaceans are a rich, bright blue when alive and brilliant, shimmering orange when cooked. The blue swimmer crab has by far and away from the most unique flavour and texture. Sweet, clean yet rich, it has a punchy iodine character, which reflects their preference for seagrass beds where they feast on clams, prawns, small fish and molluscs.