This Vietnamese dish is originated from the ethnic Thái people in mountainous northwestern Vietnam who call it pa pỉnh tộp. The cornerstone of this grill/roast dish is the local prickly ash pepper known as mắc khén. Mắc khén pepper is the spice made from the seeds of the prickly ash plant Zanthoxylum rhetsa, which is similar to Sichuan pepper.
Mắc khén pepper has a distinct aroma and mild pungent taste, so it is perfect to mask the fishy smell of fish.
Technically, any freshwater might be suitable for this dish. However, the local people used to use the fish caught in the mountain streams. Suggested fish are several large-lipped carp species (Labeo/Sinilabeo/Semilabeo) like Sinilabeo graffeuilli (cá mỵ), Sinilabeo lemassoni (cá rầm xanh), Semilabeo obscurus (cá anh vũ) as well as several Spinibarbus fish like S. denticulatus (cá bỗng).
Only use big fish. If it's too big, butterfly it.
The time for oven-roasted fish may vary depending on the size of the fish.
Removing the two white fish veins in some type of fish helps reduce the fishy smell.