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Dried-frog products bring good income for farmers in An Giang

The road to the “dried-frog village” in Vinh Trung commune in Tinh Bien district in An Giang province gets especially busy beginning at 3 pm, when men set out to catch tree frogs.

Tens of households in the locality live on dried frogs. The dried frog craft village took shape more than 10 years ago. In April and May, when the first rains of the season appear, the men of the village go out hunting for frogs.

The tools are simple, including a flashlight, a racket and a basket. The men begin working at nightfall.

Vo Be Hoang, a frog hunter, said when they have to go far, they leave home at 3 pm. If they go to fields nearby, they depart at dusk. Each group has four people.

“We need to go far to catch more frogs. Sometimes we travel tens of kilometers to Hon Dat district in Kien Giang province,” Hoang said. “If we are lucky, each of us can catch 15 kilograms. If not, 7-8 kilograms.”

Having 10 years of experience, Hoang said that when farmers finish rice harvesting, there will be more frogs, and it will be easier to catch frogs.

“You need to be swift-handed to catch frogs. Sometimes it rains heavily with thunder and thunder. So everyone wants to catch many frogs,” Hoang said, adding that though the work is hard, it is still better than other jobs.

“I can earn my living in my hometown, and there is no need to go away from my home for a living,” Hoang said.

In general, the men finish their work at 11 pm and sell the frogs to petty merchants for VND50,000 per kilogram.

Meanwhile, Hoang brings frogs home where his wife will clean the frogs, aromatize them with spices, and then dry the frogs under the sun the next day.

“My wife makes dried frogs to sell to merchants from everywhere,” he said.

People call his village of Vinh Trung commune the ‘sleepless village’, because when a new day begins, and local men return home after frog catching, women and children get up and make the dried-frog dish.

Lai Thi Diem, 35, wife of Hoang, said she makes dried frogs all year round, especially in rainy months, when there are more frogs to catch.

Fresh frogs are put in a large plastic container and then put ice into it. Frogs get cold and freeze to death. After that, people clean them, marinate them with spices such as fish sauce, pepper and chili. After that, they put the frogs on a grill and dry them in the sun. Each family has its own secret in marinating frogs.

“We adjust the spices to the right dose according to consumers’ taste. Vinh Trung dried frogs are famous for their marinating secrets,” Diem said.

If the sun is good, the frogs dry after 1.5 days and become delicious. Every five kilograms of fresh frogs creates one kilogram of finished products.

During the drying process, the frogs are turned over frequently, so that both sides of the frogs can catch the sun. The frogs in the wild are delicious with beautiful colors and limpid flesh which makes the bone visible.

High-quality dried frogs have a typical aroma with tasty seasoning.

Hoang said his family can live well on the job. “We can earn VND600,000-700,000 a day on average. But in high season, we can earn millions of dong,” Diem said.

Tran Thi Xuan Mai, 62, a local woman, said that all people in the village, from adults to children, have jobs related to frogs. Women and children can flay frog skin to get VND5,000 per kilogram. They can each earn hundreds of thousands of dong each day.

Dried frogs can be processed to create many dishes. However, the favorite ones are fried crispy frogs and fried frogs with fish sauce.

Dried frogs sell at VND450,000-480,000 per kilogram. Vinh Trung commune provides tens of tons of dried frogs to the market each year.

Thien Chi

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