Catching stink bugs for food in central Vietnam

By Ngoc Thanh    April 2, 2019 | 03:15 pm GMT+7

People in Thanh Hoa province catch up to five kilograms daily, braving their pungent odour and stinging urine.

Catching stink bugs for food in central Vietnam

Stink bugs neither sound nor look appetizing, but the insects are in fact used as ingredients in delicious dishes in central Vietnam. People in Ngoc Lac District in Thanh Hoa Province are used to hunting for stink bugs at this time of the year.

Chuong Van Nghi has been doing this job for over 10 years. He carries a long bamboo stick and a plastic bag during his daily hunt for the bugs. 

The stink bug season usually lasts from the first to third lunar months, or February to April on the western calendar. When longan and lychee flowers bloom in western Thanh Hoa, the stink bugs assemble there to suck the nectar from them, causing the flowers and young fruits to wither.

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The stink bugs usually live in groups of 12-14, and move very slowly. To catch them, the hunters use a stick with a plastic bag attached to one end, place it inside a bunch of flowers and shake it gently lightly so that the bugs fall into the bag.

In Ngoc Lac District, not many people catch the bugs, so the hunters are in great demand among longan orchard owners seeking to protect their trees from these pests.

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The bugs fall into the bags from which the hunters clear dead leaves and twigs.

When catching the insects, people usually wear rubber gloves to avoid direct contact with them. The bugs give off an unpleasant odor and their urine can burn human skin.

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Two people can catch up to 5 kilograms of stink bugs a day.

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Despite being protected by gloves, the hands of a catcher are covered in the bugs' urine.

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People cook the bugs using simple recipes. After they are washed, the insects are soaked in saltwater for 10 minutes to clean the dirt, the cook then gets rid of their wings and head, boils them in water and marinates them. The final step is to deep fry them in a pan.

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People put stink bugs in aluminum tubs to marinate them.

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The cooked stink bugs are seasoned with lime leaves to create a pleasant aroma. This is a favorite dish of many ethnic Muong people in Ngoc Lac District, Thanh Hoa Province. 

 
 
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