From February to May sardines dot a beach in Hue. Local fisherfolk use thick-knit nets hundreds of meters long to catch them and it’s an appetizing sight.
Sardines crowd the beach in Quang Cong Ward, Thua Thien Hue Province:
Sardines, also known as baby herrings, have the width of a hallux and typically settle three to five kilometers away from the bay. Local fisherfolk use thick-knit nets hundreds of meters long to catch them.
50-year-old fisherman Le Ngoc Hanh of Tan Loc Village and his family members remove sardines from the net by shaking it out and pulling out the remaining, trapped fish.
Sardines scattered on the sand.
The sardines are dipped in saltwater to wash off sand. This also intensifies their fresh, salty taste. Following this, the fish is piled in baskets and sold to traders.
Le Ngoc Hanh untangles the last few remaining fish from the net.
“The sardines season starts in February and lasts until May. My boat heads out around 4 a.m. and returns at 8 a.m. There are three of us and we manage to catch around 200 to 300 kg of sardines each day, earning VND4 million ($170),” said Hanh.
Equipped with plastic baskets and scales, traders head down to the beach in the morning to bargain for fresh sardines, prices ranging from VND15,000 ($0.6) to 20,000 ($0.9) per kilogram.
Sardines off the coast of Quang Dien are approximately 10-15 cm long and said to have a “nice curve.”
After about half an hour of bargaining and buying, traders take the sardines in bamboo baskets for further distribution.
Nguyen Thi Chep, a local, said: “Sardines taste best in a stew with chili pepper after scales have been thoroughly removed.”
Sardines are also frequently served fried or used in spring rolls.
Some traders add a prepping step to the sardines before delivering them to local restaurants: they coal grill their fish. These specially prepared sardines are sold at VND1,000 (4 cents) per piece. According to the sellers, this extra step ensures long-lasting freshness of the fish.