Pen shells in Vietnam
Pen shells, or sometimes fan mussels, are marine bivalve molluscs of the family Pinnidae. The shells of bivalves in this family are fragile and have a long and triangular shape. There are three genuses: Atrina, Pinna, and Streptopinna, but most species are in the first two genuses because the Streptopinna genus contains only one species.
- Class: Bivalvia
- Order: Pteriida
- Family: Pinnidae
- English name: Pen shells
- Vietnamese names: Bàn mai, sò mai, biên mai
In Vietnamese, pen shellls are known as bàn mai, and several regional names like sò mai, biên mai, or con bawso chuối. Some common pen shell species include:
- Atrina pectinata (comb pen shell, Pacific pen shell, Vietnamese: bàn mai)
- Atrina penna (feather pen shell)
- Atrina vexillum (flag pen shell, Indo-Pacific pen shell)
- Pinna atropurpurea (dark purple pen shell)
- Pinna bicolor (bi-color pen shell, Vietnamese: bàn mai tím)
Pen shells can be cooked in many very typical dishes with a sea flavor such as: grilled with spring onion fat, stir-fried with shiitake mushrooms, grilled with fermented bean curd, or cooked in seafood hot pots… But the most favorite dish to the Vietnamese is probably grilled pen shells with spring onion fat.
The white adductor muscle that connects the two shells is commonly referred to as the pen shell meat.