In recent years, producing dried beef and pork has created new income for many households in Son La province. When Tet comes, the dried meat market is busier than ever. Son La branded products are now in demand nationwide.
Nguyen Thi Ly’s family in To Hieu ward, Son La City, has been making dried meat for 20 years. At first Ly only sold dried pork meat and sausages. In 2006, when she realized the potential of dried meat market, Ly’s family invested more than US$1,500 in building a smoker oven and vacuum-pump. Now her family sells nearly 2 tons of dried beef a year, and more than 1 ton of dried meat during Tet. Ly says she makes an annual net profit of US$8,800.
|Ms. Nguyen Thi Ly is smoking the seasoned meat.
“I have 20 years of experience. The busiest time of the year is around the Tet holiday when the number of customers calling or coming to my house to order goods is much higher. This job gives us a stable income, enough money for the children to attend school,” Ly elaborates.
Son La’s dried meat is made of pork, beef, buffalo meat, or horse meat mixed with the typical spices of Thai ethnic people - chili, ginger, garlic, and “mac khen”, - a kind of forest peppercorn with a distinctive aroma.
After being seasoned, the meat is smoked over firewood for 2 days and 1 night and then steamed. The last step is to continue to smoke the meat until it is dry to ensure it will keep for a long time.
Each step is done manually, Hoang Thanh Binh, a tourist of Hoa Binh province, says “Son La’s dried meat is delicious and distinctive. Both children and adults like it. I bought several kilos as gifts for my family and friends.”
During this year’s Tet holiday, the Son La dried food market is offering a new product: dried Giang fish. Dried Giang fish is prepared like other dried foods, but it takes more time to smoke the fish and it’s a bit more complicated to prepare. A kilo of this specialty can cost as much as US$13.
Lo Thi Muon, an experienced seller in Heo hamlet, Son La City, says “This year many people have ordered this product for Tet instead of dried beef, pork, or sausage because it is a new dish with a different flavor and it’s not greasy or cloying.”
Son La has hundreds of outlets selling dried meat of various kinds, earning each household about US$13,200 per year.
Son La dried meat is trusted by consumers for its quality, hygiene, and safety, according to Lu Van Truong, Deputy Head of the provincial Veterinary Department.
“During the Lunar New Year, the volume of poultry and cattle used to make food greatly increase. We have asked grass-roots units and the inspection agency to step up inspection and monitoring of slaughtering activities and punish all violations. We are also warning people to buy stamped products which indicate hygiene and slaughtering checks.”