Unique dishes from iguana in Phan Rang

August 26, 2015 | 09:51
(0) user say
I once joined a group of artists and cultural experts to visit Phan Rang City in the south-central coast province of Ninh Thuan.
A dish of iguana mixed with fresh veggies is served with rice paper - PHOTO: NGUYEN HUE NGHI

Knowing that dong, or iguana in English, a lizard which is usually found on sand dunes in coastal areas, is a renowned specialty of Phan Rang, I took the group to a restaurant serving iguana dishes.

Shocked when seeing customers in the restaurant eating the reptile, a Korean French woman in our group refused to sit down and kept asking us to leave.

Yet I convinced her to stay and try a dish of iguana meat mixed with fresh vegetables as an introductory food for beginners. The dish helps people forget that they eat lizard meat because the meat is shredded, allowing diners to get acquainted with the taste of iguana.

The result was beyond expectations as the foreign woman, after finishing a portion of iguana mixed with fresh vegetables, decided to try all dishes processed from the lizard including grilled, roasted, and fried chopped iguana, and iguana rice porridge.

The trip to learn about the culture of the central region turned out to be interesting as a foreigner took a fancy to a specialty of Ninh Thuan.

In the old days, when going on sand dunes in Ninh Thuan, I usually saw local kids with suntanned skin and hair carrying baskets and traps to catch iguana early in the morning and returned home in the afternoon with strings of many iguanas.

On August 25, there are still many iguanas on sand dunes in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces but as to serve the increasing demand of restaurants, local people have set up farms to raise the lizard.


What the stars mean:

★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional