“Ech òn” (“Òn” Frog) – A Cham Ethnic Group’s Specialty

Excellently and professionally cooked, penetrated with special Cham’s cuisine’s essence, ech on (or “on” frog”) is believed to enchant the taste of people who once try it.

Around May – the early time of summer, when cicadas are about to raise their specific singing voices, summer rains are about to steadily fall and spread out to every rural village, it is high time Cham people in Ninh Thuan started catching “on” frogs – a kind of amphibians, related with regular frog kinds, toads… Cham people consider “on” frogs a rare and special kind, particularly precious to make food, since “on” frogs only reproduce every once a year, and people only get to eat them only a few times during summer.

When the constant rains get heavy and abundant, “on” frogs set out to leave their holes, coming to the ground in order to find food, spawn and mate. “On” frogs mainly gather at dunes or under the mountain in which the soil is soft and loose. The heavier the rains get, the more frogs appear on the ground. This kind of frogs eat mainly termites and low-flying insects.
Once it stops raining, “on” frogs begin to raise their voices to attract mates, which is also a sign for “frogs” catchers to locate them. However, only during May and June on which frogs appear most abundantly that people are able to catch them. The frog catching season lasts for only 2 months.

“On” frogs’ have fresh, fragrant meat and particularly soft bones, thus become appetizing to many people. Besides, “on” frogs are considered rich in protein and quite nutritious. They can be cooked into various dishes, from boiled, grilled to roasted or to make sour soup and salad. Each dish contains specific different taste that challenges even the most picky person’s appetite. 
Boiled “on” frogs
Those who have never tried frogs’ meat before may find the boiled, exposed frogs unattractive. However, once you made up your mind and allowed yourself to get a bite of the meat, you would surely be amazed at how tasty it is – scrumptious from the white, fresh meat to the soft bones. Dip it into a bowl of chili salt or spicy fish sauce to vary the taste.
Roasted “on” frogs
Its sweet fragrance spread out from a fire basket will enchant you to take a bite of this specialty. “On” frogs before roasted must have been carefully washed in hot water and dried in the sun for one day in order to keep the fragrance of the meat and the fresh taste. A well roasted “on” frog is eaten with a special kind of herb. When put on fire together, they spread out a special smell that attract people’s appetites.  

Roasted 'on' frogs Roasted 'on' frogs

Sour soup with “on” frogs and tamarind leaves

After being washed carefully, the frogs are cut into thin slices and lightly fried in a rich oil pan. Meanwhile, a fist-size of  gao tam – a high-grade rice kind is lightly fried then put into a boiling pot to get well cooked. Fresh eggplants and tamarind leaves are cut into small pieces, then poured into the boiled rice pot along with the frog’s meat. When everything in the pot gets medium cooked and fragrant, we can begin to flavor the pot with several spices according to one’s appetite. The sour soup should taste delectable with light taste of young tamarind leaves, sweet smell of roasted rice, buttery taste of eggplants and the scrumptious taste of well-cooked “on” frog’s meat. Sour soup with “on” frogs and tamarind leaves is especially good to help recovering our health after a hangover.
 “On” Frog Salad
It is perhaps because of the limited caught “on” frogs that local people have come up with the idea of creating a delicious dish of mixing the frogs’ meat with various kinds of vegetables and herbs. This dish does not require so much frogs’ meat, yet still guarantees to keep the specific taste of it. “On” frogs, after boiled, are chopped into small pieces and mixed with different herbs and vegetables that are easily found around the local area of Ninh Thuan, such as “coc” and wild “cari” vegetables… Then simple dish just needs to have some typical spices added. People have assumed that “on” frog salad (served with rice wine) is an ideal dish for a rainy day in summer. 

'On' frogs Salad 'On' frogs Salad

People who are interested in nature and wish to explore different areas might like to visit Cham people’s village and accompany the farmers to go to neglected places or places under the mountains to catch this kind of “on” frogs. Their melodious voices raised to call for mates in the late afternoon will surely make you feel as if you have officially stepped into the wild and bring about unforgettable experiences.

Vietnam Cuisine - Frogs


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