Processed catfish is gradually becoming a common dish on the Vietnamese dining table.
Truong Hong, a resident in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, shared with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper at a local mini-supermarket that she was searching for ready-to-cook flour-coated catfish to please her son who had been craving the dish since trying it at her friend’s house.
“I had to ask my friend where she bought it,” Hong said.
Ready-made catfish products might be a relatively recent introduction to the Vietnam market, but a huge selection of catfish tempura, catfish fillet, catfish karaage, and catfish fingers is already flooding supermarkets' frozen food aisles.
Vo Duc Khoa, sales manager at Go Dang Company (GODACO) – a frozen catfish producer – said that the firm is receiving positive feedback from customers and getting repeat orders from retailers only six months after originally introducing its products to the local market.
GODACO currently plans to continue pushing out as much as 15,000 metric tons of catfish from their US$30 million processing factory each year using fish brought in from closed farming chains in line with European standards, according to Khoa.
Currently, at its factory in the southern province of Ben Tre, Japanese and U.S. food scientists are testing spice mixtures suitable for U.S. and European tastes in order to expand the firm's exports to Europe.
Meanwhile, a group of Vietnamese culinary experts are working out which flavor combinations are best for the domestic market.
Now, the positive reviews rolling in from consumers are helping company leaders breathe a sigh of relief, particularly as many claim the crispy catfish “tastes better than fried chicken at fast-food restaurants."
GODACO’s products are currently sold at such popular grocery chains such as Bach Hoa Xanh and Thai conglomerate Central Group’s Big C. The company plans to continue expanding its network of retail partners in the near future.
Prior to entering the Vietnamese market, GODACO spent three years selling its catfish products internationally to the U.S., Japanese, European, and Middle Eastern markets.