The dry season in Cam mountain

Dried made from imitations caught in the wild, when dried neatly on the grill with long legs, it is also known as the “long-legged dancer” – a specialty of An Giang mountain.

Every day at dusk, Mr. Chau Sa Ruon from Vinh Trung commune, Tinh Bien district, carrying a racket, flashlight and net bag, drives a motorbike towards Cam Mountain. The area to catch frogs is about 40 km from his house, it takes him nearly an hour to drive and more than 15 minutes to cross the field.

After the first few spots of rain of the season, frogs chirped in the fields. Selecting the bushes, Mr. Ruon flashed his flashlight on the field, using his racquet to shoot rapidly. About an hour, he caught nearly half a kilo of fakes and put them in a bag, tied carefully. “A lot is about 10 kg, some days less than 3-4 kg, the price is 60,000 VND a kg”, he said.

In the rainy season, Mr. Ruoi only rests on full moon days, because frogs do not go out to find food. The work was not heavy, but staying up many nights made Mr. Ruon tired. In return, catching and selling imitations helps a man nearing 50 manage the economy in his leisure time.

Dried imitations of Mrs. Hanh's family after drying in the sun.  Photo: Ngoc Tai
Dried imitations of Mrs. Bich Hanh’s family after drying in the sun. Photo: Ngoc Tai

Fresh imitations are caught by people like Mr. Ruoi and then sold to households to dry. Ms. Bich Hanh, who has been drying imitations for more than 10 years in Vinh Trung commune, said that this year’s rain is early, so the dry season begins in early April, nearly a month earlier. This is the time when the working atmosphere in the frog drying village near Cam mountain is bustling.

The dry village in Cam mountain has existed for about 15 years. At first, people worked to eat at home, to give to relatives. Dried delicious, many people suggested selling, then the dry village gradually formed. On average, Ms. Hanh’s family makes 10-15 kg of dry goods per day and delivers them to traders for 400-500 thousand VND/kg. To dry fresh, frogs must marinate in ice during the whole process from cleaning, marinating spices, and coming up on the drying rack.

“Fresh clones are delicious, but rotten and then marinated with many spices are not good,” Hanh said and said that the largest clones are only as big as two fingers, and live in the wild, so the meat is delicious and the bones are soft.

The stage of folding the clones to the drying rack takes up a lot of time and effort because it must be neat, pulling the clones long and evenly.  Photo: Ngoc Tai
The stage of folding the clones to the drying rack takes up a lot of time and effort because it must be neat, pulling the clones long and evenly. Image:Ngọc Tài

Nearby, Ms. Ngo Thi Phuong Binh, in the early morning, sat for 4 hours arranging the imitations on the drying rack. This is a complicated and time-consuming step in the drying process. Clones after cleaning are neatly folded, legs stretched, to increase the eye-catching part, and easy to maintain. “If the sun is good, one meal will be dry. Those who are careful to dry it for half an hour,” she said.

To keep up with the bright sunlight, the women in the dry village started working from 2 o’clock, after cleaning the frogs, it took about an hour for the spices to penetrate into the meat. Dried marinated flavorings include salt, fish sauce, sugar, monosodium glutamate, and chili. Each production household has a different marinade recipe, but usually at the rate of 30 kg of cleaned imitations and marinated for 1 kg of seasoning.

According to the experience of the mountain people, drying must be dried in the sun to be delicious, drying by machines will lose its natural flavor. On average, 6 kg of fresh clones can produce 1 kg of dried. Because natural clones are increasingly scarce, dry production is less and less.

Dried imitation costs 400-500 thousand VND per kg.  Photo: Ngoc Tai
Dried imitation costs 400-500 thousand VND per kg. Photo: Ngoc Tai,

Compared with many other types of dry, dried imitation requires meticulous and hard work. Usually, households in the village share the stages such as catching, cleaning, drying, and so the income is also divided equally. On average, every day the dry person earns from 100 to 200 thousand VND. Drying can be done all year round, but the peak time is in the rainy season.

Currently, drying households together establish cooperatives to build brands and connect fastidious markets. Mr. Ly Tan Dat, Director of Tinh Bien Dry Processing and Production Cooperative, said that in the near future, he will build a brand as well as carry out procedures to be recognized for products meeting OCOOP standards (the program of one product per commune). ).

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