We saw a lot of similarities in the cuisines of the four countries we visited on our Southeast Asian travels. But each country also had its own special foods. One food that we saw for sale in many Myanmar markets was dried snake fish.

The name “snake fish” refers to the appearance of the dried fish, not the species. The fish attains its unique shape from the way in which its processors gut, clean and spread it for drying. Here, in brief, is how the fish was prepared and processed at a roadside outdoor “factory”.

The freshly-caught fish is delivered in burlap sacks. The sacks are weighed and then cut open.

The contents of the sack are dumped onto a mat on the ground, and the fish are allowed to writhe for a while as onlookers watch from a local bus.
The fish are then scaled, cut open, cleaned and gutted and spread out on woven to dry in the sun.

Some of the finished product is available for sale at the “factory store”. The rest is shipped to local markets.

For the record: After watching the local villagers walking barefoot on the drying mats, we decided to forego a taste of this local delicacy.