Return to Ia H’Drai to eat… anchovy rice paper

From batches of fresh anchovies dried to golden brown under natural sunlight, without the need for preservatives, women and mothers in the fishing village (village 7, Ia Toi commune, Ia H’Drai district) have prepared this dish. Delicious, attractive and rich anchovies. I don’t know when, from being a fun dish for men to spend afternoons on the river, anchovy rice paper gradually became known to many people and became a famous specialty throughout the region.

In the afternoon, the fishing village on the Se San River is strangely peaceful. Under the setting sun, the family prepares dinner after a tiring day of work. On sturdy floating houses, people rowed boats and gathered at the house of Hai Trieu village chief (Mr. Nguyen Van Trieu – Reporter) to welcome guests from far away. Then, after just a few minutes of asking and greeting each other, everyone took advantage of the opportunity to start picking spinach, preparing fish, and preparing fresh dishes for guests.

At dusk, under the flickering electric light emitted from the battery, the rice tray is still extremely attractive. The hot pot of sliced ​​fish with water spinach is hot, fragrant and smoky, making you crave it just by looking at it; Fried anchovies are golden, crispy, sweet, salty and delicious when eaten with hot rice; Grilled tilapia makes everyone irresistible…

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Anchovy rice paper is golden, crispy, and attractive. Photo: BA

“Wait! A recent specialty, freshly baked anchovy rice paper, delicious and very attractive! We invite you to try it and give us your opinions” – Ms. Nguyen Thi Diem Trieu warmly invited guests.

There are many attractive dishes, but when anchovy rice paper “appears”, the rice tray immediately has a new “focus”. Before our eyes, golden anchovies lay neatly on a layer of hot rice paper; The aroma of fish and the salty, sweet taste of spices make people even more excited and want to enjoy it. Break a piece and dip it into the prepared bowl of chili sauce, chew slowly to feel the rich flavor. The rice paper is crispy, slowly chewed, the salty, sweet, chewy, spicy anchovy flavor comes out, truly wonderful.

Just after eating the first bite, my friend in Gia Lai immediately praised: It’s absolutely delicious! The spices are just right, the anchovies are fragrant, delicious, and crispy! This dish is so delicious, I’m sure I’ll eat the entire pot of rice.

Seeing customers praising the deliciousness, Ms. Trieu also felt excited. With a bright smile, she continued to introduce: Previously, our people only sold dried anchovies, but there was no such thing as this dish. Anchovy rice paper was only tried a few months ago but has already “traveled” to all provinces.

After a while of chatting, we learned that this anchovy rice paper dish was made from the idea of ​​Ms. Lam Thi Dep – a resident of the fishing village. Meeting us, Ms. Dep immediately shared her idea of ​​​​making a strange specialty in Kon Tum. She said, that day while drying anchovies, she suddenly thought: I should take anchovies, sprinkle them on rice paper, and try making anchovy rice paper.

“When I started working, I thought I was just doing it for fun, but when I finished, everyone in the house ate and complimented me. Seeing that, I just “told” the way to the sisters” – with a thick Western accent, Ms. Dep said, laughing generously.

To have an anchovy rice paper, you have to go through quite a few steps. First, the freshly caught anchovies will be washed thoroughly before processing. After washing, the fish is placed in a basket to drain and then marinated with spices according to the family’s traditional recipe. There are no preservatives, dyes or any other impurities, people here just pound sugar, MSG, chili, and onions to taste and then mix them well into the anchovies. After the marinated fish is soaked in spices, it will be placed on rice paper (thin rice paper, often used to roll ram rolls – PV). Normally, for every 1kg of dried anchovies, you can make about 7 anchovy rice paper cakes. “If we save money and arrange the fish thinly, it won’t be delicious. Here, people like it because the cake is thin but there’s a lot of fish so it’s fatty and crispy” – said Ms. Diem Trieu.

After arranging the fish, the remaining step is drying the fish. According to Ms. Trieu, from the day she started working, drying fish was very convenient because of the beautiful sunshine. It only took one sun to have a delicious batch of dried fish. When dried, the fish will stick to the rice paper, the worker just needs to put it in a basket and leave it in a dry place, then prepare it when ready to eat.

Unlike other types of dried anchovies, which have to be elaborate when processed, with anchovy rice paper, because it is fully marinated with spices, if you want to eat it, you just need to fry it in a pan or grill under charcoal for a few minutes and you will have it right away. A plate of crispy, fragrant rice paper.

Since the “new dish” was introduced until now, every time guests come to visit, Ms. Trieu and her relatives in the fishing village take out anchovy rice paper to entertain and introduce as a new specialty. And then, 10 people as one, with just one bite, all “fell in love” with this special dish.

“First time going to the mountains to eat fish specialties. Anchovy rice paper is really very attractive and interesting, it’s delicious to eat with rice and there’s nothing better than it as a snack” – my friend, from Quang Ngai, admired.

Because many people “fell in love” with the small fishing village, the naturally fragrant musk and fish specialties of the mountainous area soon appeared in other provinces. Ms. Trieu said that many people first came to the neighborhood to visit, and after trying it, they immediately bought it as a gift.

“Someone called to order 200 pieces to bring back to their hometown as gifts for relatives and neighbors. Now there are people who order 100 pieces. I’ll let them make it tomorrow and then they’ll take it so it’s fresh and delicious. Many people from far away tried it, then called to order, we made it, and sent it to them” – Ms. Diem Trieu happily said.

I don’t know when, anchovy rice paper became a dish used to entertain guests from far away in Ia H’Drai district. Many people told us they choose this dish because it tastes delicious, rich, and easy to prepare. Furthermore, with the widespread information about marinating with preservatives, anchovy rice paper is cleaned, safe and secure to eat.

“There is no need to refrigerate or preserve much, just put the rice paper in a basket, cover it from mice and cockroaches and you can eat it within 15 days” – Ms. Diem Trieu said.

With the above advantages, since the “launch” day, at the price of 5,000 VND/piece, Ms. Trieu and her sisters in the fishing village have sold hundreds of anchovy rice paper. Although this is not the main source of income, it also helps people here have more income. In particular, thanks to anchovy rice paper, the fishing village on the Se San river is known to more people. Many people travel long distances to come here not only to admire the scenery, to learn about life in floating houses but also to eat fish specialties on the land surrounded by mountains and forests.

And I don’t know when, many people keep telling each other: let’s go to Ia H’Drai, watch the long sunny sunset, eat thin anchovy rice paper, enjoy a bit of life’s leisure…