The hunt for spicy fish delicacy deep down Vietnam's hydropower dam

By Ngoc Thanh   May 24, 2018 | 08:00 am GMT+7

A kilo of the dry sharpbelly fish, made from five kilos of fresh fish, is sold for VND180,000 ($7.84).

Fishermen drop fishnets down to the bottom of Da River, use light to attract fishes through the night, before lift it up to harvest their catch the next morning. Fresh sharpbelly fish is sold for VND10,000 per kilogram. However, it would take 5 kilograms of sharpbelly fish to make 1 kilogram of its dry version.

Two men sail a boat carrying the small sharpbelly fish they have caught from the Son La hydropower dam along the Da River in the northern province of Son La. Fresh sharpbelly fish is sold for VND10,000 ($0.44) per kilogram and is the main ingredient of a savory specialty of the local Thai ethnic group.

According to the locals, after Son La hydroelectric reservoir was built, fishes proliferated and locals can now catch fishes all-year-round. In 2017, fishermen at Quynh Nhai District in Son La Province caught 540 tons of seafood.

Locals in Quynh Nhai District said the reservoir has created a favorable environment for the fish. They caught 540 tons in 2017.

The fish are cleaned and gutted.

The fish are cleaned and gutted.

After they washed and sanitized fishes, locals seasoned fishes with chilies, sugar, salt, and satay for 15 minutes, before laying them out to dry up under the sun.

Then they are mixed with red chilli sauce, sugar, salt, and satay for 15 minutes.

Then they are laid open under the sun, until dry and wearing a gold color.

Then they are laid open under the sun, until dry and wearing a gold color.

Me Thi Duyen, a local food producer, said: With seasonings soaked deeply into the fish, customers will be satisfied when they can taste the richness of the fish along with the sweet and spicy flavor.

"The fish is rich, and sweet, and spicy and any customers will be satisfied,” said a local woman.

Dry sharpbelly fish will be sold for VND180,000 per kilogram, and this regional specialty food also helped create stable jobs for many locals.

A Thai woman packs the dry fish for delivery. A kilo, which is made from five kilos of fresh fish, is sold for 180,000 ($7.84) per kilogram.

 
 
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