Home > Local News > Season to smoke fish in riverside villages

Season to smoke fish in riverside villages

The skewered fish are laid on bamboo frames to be smoked for five or six hours. PHOTOS BY HENG CHIVOAN

Fisherman Mr Vouthy, 37, harvests fish ready for smoking.

Above, threading fish onto skewers. Below, tending the fire is a smoky task.

Steady flames and smoke preserve the fish and lend a special flavour.
FRESH, smoked, raw, dried and fermented fish of all kinds lends a
special type of power to Cambodian cuisine. Fish in one of these forms
can be found in most of the nation’s dishes.

This is the prime
fishing season for communities living along the Tonle Sap river and
lake. Families skewer the fish then lay them out on bamboo grills, to
be smoked by a fire built beneath.

Fish stocks have declined
over the past 10 years in his area, according to fisherman Sok Bros of
Prek Khmeng village in Lvea Em district, downstream from Phnom Penh in
Kandal province.

He blames shallower water, an increasing number
of fishermen and higher costs for raw materials. However, his family is
still busy between October and April, the prime fishing season, he says.

“We
do not harvest as much as previously, we are not so  busy, only from
April to June, in low-water season. Most fish that my villagers can
afford are small, priced from 1,200 riel to 1,500 riel per kilogramme,”
says the fisherman.

He spreads his nets at midday and hauls them in to retrieve his catch around midnight, even through heavy rainstorms, he says.

Once
the fish are gutted, the family threads them by the dozen on to
skewers, then smokes them over an open fire – a task requiring all
eight family members, says Sok Bros.

“We put the skewers on a
bamboo frame over a low fire to dry out the fish. In the fishing
season, my family can smoke about 200 or 300 fish a day, weighing about
30 kilogrammes,” he explains.

He sells most of his smoked fish
to middlemen who buy skewers to sell to villages and markets. They sell
for between 23,000 riel and 30,000 riel for 100 skewers of fish, he
says.

Village Chief Soun Som Ouern says that 80 percent of
villagers in Prek Khmeng are fishermen, while about 20 percent work as
farmers.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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