As the owner claims that ‘everyone else can cook’ the way she does, 300kg of braised fish sold each day isn’t something anyone actually can achieve. 

If you ever bought braised fish from Pham Thi Huyen’s store at no. 3 Cau Go Lane, Hanoi City, you would be impressed by the rich taste in each caramelized piece of carp, scad… that tastes and looks excellent. Therefore, it is understandable the amount of fish sold here every day can reach up to 200-300kg.

On special occasions like the Lunar New Year or when joining food fairs, fish sales can double up to 500-700kg per day. If the purchase is made before lunch or dinner, customers will have to wait in line for their turn.

The store has been here for 5 or 6 years. When being asked about the secret ingredient behind her famous braised fish. ‘Everyone can cook it. I only use galangal, salt, sugar, MSG, caramelized sugar, fish sauce to marinate it,” said Huyen.

For Pham Thi Huyen, this is a dish that does not require any special secrets, but the chef must put effort and time into each piece of fish.

‘While cooking it, if the heat must not be too high, the fish will crumble if it's left on high heat. On the other hand, low heat would ruin the fish's firmness,” Huyen told us. 

At the store, Huyen also sells sweet and sour pork ribs, roasted meat, stewed meat, stir-fried shrimp, grilled pork ... But the best-selling is still the braised fish, especially the carps.

To select the best fish from the market, Huyen gets up every day around 4 AM. The fish and the pork chosen must be fresh. Working days in her store usually end around 10, 11 PM

All fish pots need to go through 2 times of cooking, the chefs must pay close attention to adjust the fire level accordingly as well as to pour stock on each piece of fish for it to be fully marinated.

"I usually come here to buy this braised and caramelized fish which is delicious. Just the right taste brought by traditional methods. The seasoning is perfect as well," said Nguyen Thanh Hang (55 years old, Gia Lam district), a regular customer of the store for many years.

Pham Thi Huyen was born in Thai Binh. She moved to Hanoi later in life and settled down in this town. As Huyen was obsessed with the taste of braised fish from the past, she took up cooking braised fish as a career. Dung her first days, the store could only sell 2 pots a day, now it sells roughly 10 pots each day.

Some people might argue that it is more delicious to cook in clay pots (like the braised fish from Vu Dai’s village) than in aluminum pots the way she does. With the amount of fish sold every day like that, Huyen has affirmed her value: “If I put my real time and effort in the fish pot, there’s nothing that would fear me”./.