Unlike other spices, Michelia tonkinensis has a distinctive aroma – throne, warm, and fragrant that no spices can have.
Michelia tonkinensis – Gold ine of the Muong people (Photo: Internet)
Chi Dao commune (Lac Son district, Hoa Binh province) is currently considered the “center” of the Muong Michelia tonkinensis tree. The whole commune has about 2,000 large Michelia tonkinensis trees concentrated in Be Tren and Be Ngoai villages. There are nearly 3,000 trees for harvest. In recent years, Michelia tonkinensis seeds have been considered specialties, sold at “as high as gold” prices, bringing a stable life to many people here. The whole commune is full of Michelia tonkinensis fragrance. After being grown for seven years, the Michelia tonkinensis trees will be available to harvest. They flower in spring and get ripen around September and October every year. The Michelia tonkinensis fruit grows into clusters. Each cluster often includes 3 or 4 fruit, in each of fruit, there are 4 – 8 seeds. When ripe, the Michelia tonkinensis seeds turn reddish. People harvest and dry them, then the seeds turn black. Dried seeds can leave for 3 – 4 years without spoiling.
After being grown for seven years, the Michelia tonkinensis trees will be available to harvest. (Photo: Internet)
The price of fresh Michelia tonkinensis seeds is about 650,000 – 750,000 VND/kg, while dry seeds must be 1.5 – 2 million VND/kg. Michelia tonkinensis trees flower 2 crops a year: The main crop is from February to March and ripens from September to October. The other crop is from July to August and ripening from March to April. People harvest Michelia tonkinensis fruit by picking them around the roots or stretching the net and then using a stick to let them fall. The value of a Michelia tonkinensis tree can be equal to gold.
In the past, people in the mountain went to collect the seeds in the forest and then put them in bamboo tubes stored in the kitchen. When they wanted to use them, they took out a few seeds and grilled them on charcoal. The scented grilled seeds are thoroughly crushed with dry white salt, and stored in the bark of an old pumpkin to make Michelia tonkinensis salt. This salt is used to eat with chicken or pork, and as a spice for many unique cuisines. Not only that, the seeds can be soaked in alcohol to be used as a very good joint pain reliever.
Anyone who has ever traveled to Da river will not forget the grilled fish with Michelia tonkinensis seeds. (Photo: Internet)
The Muong people’s way of eating Michelia tonkinensis seeds also reflects their culture and customs very well. First, put a few pieces of red charcoal on fire and the seeds into a bowl, use chopsticks to stir until you can smell the fragrance. Crush the seeds into a powder and then mix with salt, put in fish sauce, or make spice for grilled meat, sour bamboo shoot soup, etc.
Anyone who has ever traveled to Da river will not forget the grilled fish with Michelia tonkinensis seeds. Fresh fish caught from the river is processed, salted, and then clamped with old and fresh bamboo sticks, and grilled on charcoal. Each hot fish skewer is eaten with white salt mixed with Michelia tonkinensis seeds, nothing is better. Pork with Michelia tonkinensis seeds grilled on charcoal is one of the dishes that attract visitors. The pork is sliced then mixed with Michelia tonkinensis seeds, and grilled on burning charcoal. The sweetness of pork mixed with the aroma of spices creates a special dish that no one can refuse.
Michelia tonkinensis is a treasure of the mountains and forests. (Photo: Internet)
In recent times, many traders went to the village to find Michelia tonkinensis seeds. People often harvest and sell the seeds immediately. They also export Michelia tonkinensis seeds to international markets because many cuisines prefer the spices of the forest for their grills or grills. The income is stable, Muong people in Chi Dao also invented a new way, which is to make salt ready for sale to tourists. This fragrant spice with mountain and forest flavor, hope to be a precious gift every time visitors visit Muong land.
It is said that people also export the seeds to foreign countries because many cuisines are interested in this forest spice for their grilled dishes. With a stable income, the Muong people in Chi Dao has created Michelia tonkinensis salt to sell to tourists. This fragrant spice is like a treasure of the mountains and forests, hoping to be a precious gift every time tourists visit Muong land./.