by Việt Dũng
VŨNG TÀU – Stingray hotpot may sound like a somewhat bizarre fish dish, but it is actually one of the most popular seafood dishes in the coastal city of Vũng Tàu.
To prepare the dish, a fresh stingray fish is cut into small pieces, which are then cleaned thoroughly and brought out raw to diners.
Served alongside the fish is a steaming pot of broth, seasoned with pineapple slices, sour bamboo shoots, fish sauce and other spices, giving it a savoury and sour taste.
A generous heap of fresh vegetables is served as well, including water spinach and the spongy taro stems.
Diners would add the raw stingray chunks into the hotpot to cook them at their tables, before taking them out and placing them on a plate of fish sauce with chili, for the salty and spicy flavour to soak into the meat. In fact, this is a very common way to cook and enjoy any fish hotpot dishes in Việt Nam.
The fish can then be enjoyed with vegetable and rice noodles, also cooked with savoury broth.
With its flaky, soft texture and savoury flavour, it is not hard to understand why stingray hotpot is such a beloved specialty in Vũng Tàu City. The fin parts are especially tasty due to their firmer texture.
The spicy, rich broth with a sour aftertaste is also irresistible and always leaves you wanting more. It goes very well with rice noodles, making for a satisfying dining experience.
Taro stems are also noteworthy since their spongy and absorbent nature means that they easily soak up the sour and savoury broth, which is why the vegetable is often served along with hotpot at restaurants in Việt Nam.
In addition to hotpot, stingrays can be prepared in many other ways, such as stir-fried, grilled and steamed with onion.
A Vũng Tàu specialty
Vũng Tàu City in Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province is well-known for its abundance of seafood restaurants, and one cannot travel around for more than a few minutes without seeing a restaurant selling stingray hotpot.
Trần Trường Giang, a chef at the four-year-old 7 Lượm Stingray Hotpot Restaurant, told Việt Nam News that local restaurants like his typically use a certain breed of saltwater stingray mostly found in Vũng Tàu City.
Many tourists are eager to try out this exotic specialty of Vũng Tàu City, and they almost always leave satisfied and wanting more.
Nguyễn Trần Thảo Nguyên, a HCM City tourist who had tried stingray hotpot for the first time, was greatly impressed by the fish’s texture and the broth’s unique sweet and sour taste, so much so that after returning to the city she immediately tried to find local restaurants that can sell the dish!
In fact, many restaurants in HCM City sell stingray hotpots to give local diners a taste of the coastal city’s specialty.
Lê Thị Ngọc Hân, a woman of Đồng Tháp descent living in HCM City, has been selling stingray hotpot online for nearly two years with her business named Lẩu Cá Đuối 34 (Stingray hotpot 34), shipping bags of hotpot broth, vegetables and raw stingray chunks to customers.
She told Việt Nam News that she spent five years running a small business in Vũng Tàu City, where she would cook seafood dishes for customers, using ingredients that they had brought to her.
“I have made many seafood dishes, and I was amazed by stingrays. It’s nutritious and can be used to make so many dishes, so I decided that I want to make a living with the fish.”
She mostly buys her fresh stingray at Vũng Tàu City, where she would clean and cut them to smaller pieces, then she would vacuum-pack and freeze the fish before bringing them to HCM City.
“When I take customer orders I would ask them when they would eat the dish so I can begin thawing the fish accordingly, and by the time customers eat them they would have been thawed naturally,” she said.
Stingray hotpot is definitely worth trying out for any customers looking for a new dining experience, especially if they happen to visit Vũng Tàu City. –
World-renowned boy band Westlife to perform in Vietnam in November
Irish boy band Westlife thrilled Vietnamese audiences on Tuesday night by revealing their plan to come back to Vietnam for a live concert scheduled for November 22.
The band wrote on their Facebook account that “Vietnam! We are so excited to be coming back with the Wild Dreams tour on 22nd November 2023.”
Their live concert will take place at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, according to their Facebook post.
Concert tickets will be put up for sale on Tuesday next week.
“Don’t miss out,” they told their fans.
|A photo of the members of Westlife when they are young. Photo: The Guardian|
Right after their announcement, the post received some 6,000 emotions, 1,500 comments, and over 1,000 shares from Facebook users.
Many fans commented that they were exhilarated and would go to the concert with their friends.
The boy band traveled to Vietnam for the first time to perform at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi in 2011, as part of their Westlife Gravity Tour.
Two years later, singer Shane Filan, main vocalist of Westlife, came to Ho Chi Minh City to perform at the You & Me Tour Live in Saigon show at 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street in District 4.
In 2017, Shane Filan made a comeback to Vietnam for his Love Always Tour. He sang his songs and many of Westlife’s greatest hits, such as Uptown girl, Beautiful in White, Tonight, and You Raise Me Up, at a stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
Westlife was formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1998. The band consists of Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan and Nicky Byrne. Brian McFadden, a member of the band, left in 2004.
The group disbanded in 2012, but reunited in 2018.
Westlife became popular with Vietnamese audiences in the 1990s and 2000s.
|Many Vietnamese fans express their excitement at Westlife’s comeback to Vietnam. Photo: The Irish Sun|
In Ireland, the group has 11 number-one albums, 16 number-one singles, and 34 top-fifty singles.
The band has sold 55 million records worldwide and holds four Guinness World Records.
Among their greatest hits are My love, I Lay My Love on You, Queen of My Heart, Seasons in the Sun, Mandy, Fool Again, Swear it Again, and When You Tell Me That You Love Me.
13th European – Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival to open in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Cinema fans will have the opportunity to enjoy free screenings of 19 documentary films at the 13th European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival, scheduled to take place from September 22 to 28 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
This year, the festival will present works from eight countries, including the UK, Austria, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland, Belgium (Wallonie-Brussels Delegation), and host Vietnam.
These works focus on such topics as climate change, environmental pollution, gender equality, and ways to protect and coexist peacefully with nature.
This annual cultural event is co-organized by the National Documentary and Scientific Film Studio under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, and the European National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC).
Director Trinh Quang Tung, deputy head of the National Documentary and Scientific Film Studio, said the festival is a cultural exchange activity that has left audiences with a good impression over the years.
Through the festival, film buffs can explore more about the people and culture of Vietnam and European countries, as well as the relations between humans and current global issues, Tung said.
The 13th edition is expected to enable Vietnamese artists and film producers to broaden their experience in the film industry and come up with new ideas, Tung added.
Among the seven international works to be featured at the festival, a few have won prestigious awards and nominations such as ‘The Happy Worker,’ ‘Sous Le Nom De Tania,’ ‘Die Unbeugsamen’ (Femocracy), and ‘Living Proof: A Climate Story.’
|‘Vesuvio’ or ‘How They Learned To Live Between Volcanoes’ by Italian director Giovanni Troilo will be presented at the 13th European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival.|
The seven films from EU nations highlight the topics of climate change, environmental protection, and peaceful coexistence with nature, including ‘Vesuvio’ or ‘How They Learned To Live Between Volcanoes’ (Italy), ‘Living Proof: A Climate Story’ (the UK), ‘Matter Out Of Place’ (Austria).
Film enthusiasts can also explore stories about other contemporary global issues including employment in ‘The Happy Worker’ (Finland), and women’s rights and gender equality in ‘Sous Le Nom De Tania’ (Wallonie-Brussels) and ‘Die Unbeugsamen’ (Germany).
Donna McGowan, director of the British Council in Vietnam, said the film festival will help us reflect on contemporary global issues.
|Participants at a press meeting to announce the 13th European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival in Hanoi, September 18, 2023. Photo: Dau Dung / Tuoi Tre|
“Vietnam is vulnerable to climate change. Audiences will learn more about issues this country is encountering,” McGowan elaborated.
The 12 Vietnamese films at the event tell stories about environmental pollution, the post-war period, cybercrimes, wildlife protection, epidemics, and gender equality.
The festival will also feature documentary films by independent authors, comprising ‘Children Of The Mist’ (Vietnam), ‘Road Back To The Wild’ (Vietnam), and ‘I Want To Breathe’ (Vietnam).
Painter dedicates artworks to victims, rescuers of tragic Hanoi fire
Artist Le Sa Long crafted a series of seven paintings within three days to commemorate 56 dead victims of a recent fatal fire in Hanoi, while also conveying his appreciation for the relentless efforts of both emergency responders and compassionate civilians who fought the blaze and aided the struggling victims.
Long, a member of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association, joined numerous Vietnamese citizens from across Vietnam in closely monitoring news about the fire at an apartment block in Thanh Xuan District of the capital on Tuesday night last week.
The conflagration hit the apartment block down a narrow alley on Khuong Ha Street in the district and claimed the lives of 56 people while injuring 37 others.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts the scene of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
The tragedy inspired Long to dedicate nearly three days to crafting seven paintings in remembrance of the lost victims.
Out of the seven paintings, five form a sequential narrative.
The initial one portrays the scene of the tragic incident, while the subsequent paintings describe the efforts of emergency responders extinguishing the flames and rescuing individuals from the engulfed building.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts two brave emergency responders fearlessly entering a burning building to rescue victims in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
The last two paintings consist of individual portraits.
In one, he depicts Nguyen Dang Van, a 30-year-old deliveryman from Bac Ninh Province in northern Vietnam, who valiantly assisted in the rescue of nine people from the fire.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts police officers, firefighters, and civilians banding together to rescue victims of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
In the other portrait, Long painted Pham Quoc Viet, founder and leader of First Aid Support Angels, a civilian charity organization committed to offering prompt first aid assistance for all accidents in Hanoi.
Viet and his team also provided aid at the scene of the fire last Tuesday night.
“If I have the opportunity to meet these two brave young people, Pham Quoc Viet and Nguyen Dang Van, I will present them with their portrait paintings as a gesture of gratitude for their fearless acts of rescuing people without regard to their own safety,” Long said.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts emergency responders working at the scene of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
Besides, Long is currently working on another oil painting measuring 120cm x 160cm, centered around a rare moment of respite among the firefighters after they successfully combated the deadly blaze on Tuesday night.
He plans to put this painting up for auction, with the proceeds to be used as support for the families of the 56 deceased victims.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts a firefighter carrying a child out of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
The artist said he worked diligently to finish the first seven paintings on Sunday night, just before various Hanoi departments and organizations observed a minute of silence in memory of the 56 victims on Monday morning.
The result of his work, however, did not feel rushed at all.
|A portrait by artist Le Sa Long depicts Nguyen Van Dang, a heroic deliveryman who helped rescue nine people from the site of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
Long conveyed the poignant incident with a touch of compassion and sensitivity, paying tribute to the fire brigade and promoting fire prevention and fighting in a gentle and impactful manner.
He agreed with Hoang Song Viet, a prolific composer of traditional southern Vietnam music and performance ‘cai luong,’ on transforming this heart-wrenching incident into works of literature and art as a means to raise people’s awareness about the importance of fire prevention and fighting, particularly in densely-populated urban areas like Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City.
|A portrait by artist Le Sa Long depicts Pham Quoc Viet, founder and leader of First Aid Support Angels, a civilian charity organization dedicated to providing timely first aid for accidents in Hanoi, who led his team to help rescue victims at the site of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
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