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Fish Skin Salad

Friday, 05/12/2017 10:45
In the memories of Phu Yen’s old men, there was always soapfish in the last season of the year. It is a type of shark which has the-one-and-only delicious skin.

In the old days, whenever a soapfish was caught, most of its meat would be sold and only a small part of the fish was saved for the children because the meat was very useful in curing dermatological diseases. Its skin, unlike that of other large fishes which was discarded, was dried and saved for later uses. Sadly, this type of fish can barely be found now because of many reasons. In recent days, people may only buy dried fish skin from the market whenever they want to recreate the dish and recall the old times.

The fish skin is only a by-product so its price is rather low. It may be easy and pleasant to eat the crisp-tender fish skin, but it is very time-consuming and definitely not easy at all to get rid of its fishy smell. Judge Chiem Thanh Long remarked that the dishes of the poor in the old days were delicacies created with the skillfulness of the chefs. And only by using some ingredients which can easily be found in the garden could the chef create a fish skin salad that might be enjoyed with pleasure until satisfied.

Fish skin salad.


Ingredients for the fish skin

100g dried shark fish skin
100g green mangoes
50g carrots
50g onions
50g celery
100g banana blossom, finely sliced
10g perilla leaves
10g Vietnamese cilantro leaves
50g dry roasted peanuts
50g ginger
30ml white wine
10g garlic
1 lemon
2 grilled rice paper wrappers
15ml cooking oil
5ml fish sauce
10g cayenne pepper

Ingredients for the salad dressing

30ml fish sauce
50ml lemon extract
80g sugar
5g salt
10g garlic, minced
10g ginger, cut into shoestrings
5g chili, minced


1. Preparation

Soak the fish skin in water with 20g of smashed ginger, the extract of one lemon and 15ml of rice wine for 24 hours. When the skin has swollen, take them out and remove all the meat that still sticks on the inside of the fish skin. Then boil them in water with 20g of smashed ginger and 15ml of rice wine for 5 minutes. Take them out, then gently squeeze and clean them for several times to remove the entire fishy odor and drain them thoroughly. Peel off the green mangoes, then clean and drain them.

After that, cut them into shoestrings, about 5mm thick. Thinly slice the banana blossom, then clean and drain them. Peel off the onions and cut them into rings. Remove the leaves and the ripe part of the celery, clean, then cut them into strings. Peel off the carrots, cut them into strings; mince the garlic; clean, then drain the Vietnamese cilantro leaves and the perilla leaves, then chop them thoroughly. Thinly cut the remaining ginger into strings.

2. Process

After having prepared the fish skin, cut them into pieces, about 5cm long. Put the saucepan on the stove and add 15ml of cooking oil, wait until the oil is heated, then add the minced garlic and the shoestring-cut ginger and deep-fry them, finally add the fish skin and quickly stir-fry them. Continue to add 15ml of rice wine and stir-fry them on low heat to remove the fishy odor, finally add 5ml of fish sauce and stir-fry them until they have a savory smell. Allow the fish skin to marinate thoroughly, then turn off the heat, transfer the fish skin to a bowl and leave them to cool down.

3. Make the salad dressing

With a spoon, stir 80g of sugar and 5g of salt in 50ml of lemon extract until the sugar disappears. Continue to add 30ml of fish sauce and stir continuously to attain a gelatinous fish sauce mixture, season it to taste then add the minced garlic, chili and ginger and stir them constantly.

4. Mix the salad

Put the mangoes, carrots, celery, onions, perilla leaves, Vietnamese cilantro leaves, thinly-sliced banana blossom, chili threads and fish skin into a bowl, then slowly spoon over the dressing and slightly mix them until all the spices are mixed; finally, season to taste.


Transfer the salad to a plate, sprinkle the roasted peanuts over the top of the dish and serve with grilled rice paper and sweet and sour fish sauce.


The fish skin is crackling crisp without being smelly or chewy. The vegetables and the mangoes should be fresh and crunchy. The salad should be thoroughly marinated with the spices, the fruit and vegetables should retain most of their juice. The salad should have a sweet and sour taste.


- Only mix the salad just before serving immediately to prevent the salad from secreting too much juice to keep the vegetables crispy-tender.

- Slowly spoon the dressing over the salad so that it won’t be too salty. Adjust the dressing to taste.

- The fish skin can be prepared well in advance and kept in the fridge until the mixing time to save time.


The main ingredients of this dish are fish skin and green mangoes; the side-ingredients are carrots, onions, celery and peanuts.


This dish provides lots of substances which are essential for our body, such as collagen, minerals, vitamin C, unsaturated fat, and anti-oxidative stress active substances. Therefore, this dish is very good for people with asthenia, loss of appetite, constipation, anemia, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and obesity; it also prevents cancer and cardiovascular problems.



Author: Chef NGUYEN VAN BONG (Middle)

Kaya Hotel (Phu Yen Province)

Runner-up in the Southern Regional semi-final round of 2013 Golden Spoon Awards

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