Today’s “You Ate What” adventure takes place on a boat cruise through beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam. On this amazing trip, we visited a floating live fish market literally built into the middle of the bay, where I ate some of the freshest and tastiest food I’ve ever had in my life.
The market vendors sold all sorts of fish, clams, crabs, and fruit, but the absolute best thing I had there was the delicious and somewhat unusual mantis prawn.
- Floating live fish market in Halong Bay, Vietnam
The Mantis prawn is aptly named for its front claws that look exactly like those of a praying mantis. Its body looks like a very large shrimp / prawn (probably 3-4 times larger than your average shrimp – see picture below). This interesting hybrid package makes for a good sized treat with a surprisingly wonderful, firm texture if cooked correctly.
The taste of the prawn meat is similar to regular shrimp (some say lobster), but much sweeter and slightly more flavorful. The sweet taste of the mantis prawn also extends to its shell. My absolute favorite part of this underwater treat (and this might be a little weird) are its tiny little legs with round paddles on the bottom. They taste like little sweet and crispy shrimp flavored potato chips packed with flavor. Our chef pan fried the shell a bit with oil which made these tiny morsels taste even better. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
- Live mantis prawns
Mantis prawns are very hard to find in the United States (I hear it’s because they need to be cooked alive) but they are absolutely delicious and I would recommend them to any adventurous eater. Next time you are in Asia, you MUST try them.
What: Mantis Prawn
Where: Halong Bay in Vietnam
Tastes Like: sweet shrimp or lobster with a delicate, firm texture
Dont miss: tasty and crispy prawn legs