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Phu To Village: Generations of Drying Fish in the Mekong Delta

May 1, 2023
3 Min Read
Written by 
A woman lays out fish to dri

Endless rice fields, beautiful lotus lakes, and floating markets come to mind when you think of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. But what’s not known to many is that Dong Thap Province boasts its oldest and most distinctive fish drying village. 

Driving along the roads of Phu Tho Village in Tam Nong District, you will find countless rows of fish drying racks and a distinct yet subtle scent lingering throughout the air. With more than 100 households in the village involved in the dry fishing industry, it provides them with a stable income to provide for their families.

People lay out fish to dry in Vietnam

The workers, mostly women of all ages, are paid from 150,000 to 200,000 VND (6 to 9 USD) for a day of work.

While the younger women were all geared up to protect themselves not just from the smell but also from the scorching sun, the older women in the village didn’t even bother putting on gloves and a mask to protect themselves from the distinctive smell of the fish.

Each household in Phu Tho village has its own procedure for drying snakehead fish. Generally, the process starts with meticulously cleaning the fish, removing its bones, and washing the blood off completely. Afterwards, the fish is cut in half, marinated mostly with salt and pepper, refrigerated for 2 to 3 days, and then the long process of sun drying begins.

A woman lays out fish to dry in Vietnam

Thanks to the Mekong Delta's many riverways the province has a wide variety of fish, but the snakehead fish is the most commonly used for dried fish in Phu Tho village. Anchovy, mantis shrimp, and cream fish are among the other types of fish found in the province.

The dried snakehead fish from Phu Tho village in Dong Thap Province is a popular and special delicacy that is enjoyed by many Vietnamese in the country. Apart from its distinct sweet flavor, the fish turns naturally red when dried under the sun. 

The average price of the dried snakehead fish is around 100,000 to 150,000 per kilo. With plenty of ways to enjoy the dried delicacy, most Vietnamese fry or grill the dried fish, shred it, and eat it with rice or mixed in salad.

Fish is laid out to dry in Vietnam
A woman lays out fish to dry in Vietnam

However you want to prepare the dried snakehead fish from Dong Thap Province, the Phu Tho village continues to strive to maintain its fish drying tradition for the next generation to enjoy.


A lover of nature and adventure whose main interests revolve around oceans and mountains.

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