Freshwater fish – a special treat in a Thai wedding

Freshwater fish – a special treat in a Thai wedding

Thai people in northwestern Vietnam have a special treat of freshwater fish that is indispensable at their traditional weddings. Let's explore the dish with us.

Thai people have been living in Vietnam for over 1200 years. They mainly settled in the mountainous regions in the northwest of Vietnam. The Thai have their own unique and vibrant culture that is separated from the other ethnic groups. And one of the unique cultural features of Thai people worth to recommend is freshwater fish - a must-have dish in a traditional Thai wedding.

The unknown things about Thai people in the northwest of Vietnam

Thai people mainly live at the foot of the mountains or in the small valleys near the Vietnamese rivers. So, in their customs and traditions, they consider the rivers, streams as the gods who bring the lucky and wealthy to them. They also worship the "thuong luong" (a dragon-like river monster) and splash water over people on New Year’s Day.

A wedding ceremony of the Dao

A wedding ceremony of the Dao

How to make a delicious freshwater fish dish?

Fish is available in the rivers and streams and so easy to catch. No one knows the origin of this tradition, but the freshwater fish has become a special dish of the Thai ethnic community, especially in weddings or funerals. It is called "pa bang" (salted fish) and "pa hap" (baked-dry fish), or "bang hap" in short which are often brought by the groom’s family to the bride’s house in a traditional Thai wedding.

The "pa bang" is made from some kinds of freshwater fishes such as "xinh" fish, "khuy" fish or carp. After catching the fish from the river or stream, people will clean the fish and season it with salt, crushed galingale, grilled rice flour. Then the fish will be placed into a bamboo tube which is wrapped in silver paper and left to ferment.

When bringing to the bride’s house, the groom's side will put it in a thinly-woven net of bamboo strings. The mouth of the bamboo tube is tied with a mesh of bamboo strings, which are also used to create handle straps.

The "pa hap" is also made from the same kind of fish. After cleaning and mixing it with salt and Thai people place it into a basket with "dong" leaves, then place on a bamboo frame above the kitchen stove to bake-dry. Both bang and hap must be grilled before eating.

Why is the freshwater fish so indispensable to a Thai wedding?

If you ask Thai people this question, perhaps they will answer that because it is the best delicious ingredient they can find in this mountainous region. After all the hard time to bring up a daughter until she is mature enough to have a husband, only the most delicious fish will adequate to celebrate her marriage and treat the whole village.

The fresh-water fish can be processed into many dishes

The fresh-water fish can be processed into many dishes

Many relatives and friends in the far distance attend the party. They often receive gifts of "bang hap" from the owner to take back home. And in the process, those who receive these dishes they feel highly appreciated and respected by their host.

But there are also other reasons to explain why these two freshwater dishes play an essential role in the Thai wedding. Thai people said that the "pa bang" fermenting in the bamboo tube and the "pa hap" bake-drying on the kitchen frame above the stove represent for yin and yang, it helps the young couple have the countless happy life like the relationship of fish to water.

Moreover, the presence of fish in the wedding also represents the desire to have many children and prosperous life after marriage.

In tradition, the bride’s side has the right to order the number of "bang hap" dishes, but if the groom’s side is not rich enough, they can make a deal with the bride’s family to bring a lesser quantity. However, the two dishes must always be together in pairs, and the total number of pairs must always be more one pair.

However, the "bang hap" no longer keeps a featured position in Thai people's wedding as it used to be in the past. It can be explained that a part is because of the cultural interaction between people of different ethnic groups, but mostly it reflects the fact that there is not much fish in many regions in the rivers and streams. But these unique dishes still hold as the Thai cultural heritage.

Salmon hotpot

Salmon hotpot

Thai culture is very diverse and appealing, and it is one of the reasons why you should travel to Vietnam. If you are interested in Thai people and want to know more about their culture, visiting Vietnam to have the most authentic experience, you definitely won’t be regrettable for what Vietnam brings to you. Let’s check group tours to Vietnam to have more information about Vietnam destinations. Have a nice trip and thank you!