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What's for lunch? Roast rat
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  1. #1
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    What's for lunch? Roast rat

    In the countryside, large rodents have become a cash crop

    Story by APINYA WIPATAYOTIN
    Bangkok Post
    3 February, 2008



    It doesn't matter if they are truck drivers or behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz. Once they are on the road from Pathum Thani to Suphan Buri, they know where to stop.

    Along the side of that road are about 100 small bamboo shelters selling roasted paddy rodents, or pig rats. These small businesses have been growing rapidly to cater to the high demand from clients, regardless of their incomes.

    "My customers come from everywhere - from truck drivers to Mercedes Benz drivers. I even get foreign tourists during the holidays. I think they are happy with the delicious taste of my rats," said Sompong Malapong, a 52-year-old who has been selling roasted paddy rats on the side of the road for the past three months.

    Despite the expensive price of 120-160 baht per kilogramme, the roasted rats sold on this road sell like hot cakes.

    Mr Sompong is very happy to make a daily net profit of about 2,000 baht from selling 50 kilogrammes of his product, which are caught in paddy fields in several districts including Muang, Bang Plama, Bang Li and Don Chedi in this central province. "Many villagers catch rats and make good money," he added.

    One of the 100 villages where local people make their living from the rat trade is Ban Don Chan in Muang district.

    Boonchom Klakondee, a 46-year-old farmer from Don Chan village who has been an expert rat catcher since he was young, said his family now earns more than 10,000 baht a month selling rats to merchants.

    "We invest nothing, only our energy, and place more than 200 wooden-made traps in front of the rat holes in the paddy fields. Then we have to be patient and pray. If luck is on our side, I can get snakes. The price for them is very expensive," he said.

    Mr Boonchom can catch more than 20 rats per day, each weighing between 700 and 800 grammes. He and his son-in-law place their wooden traps in the paddy fields late in the morning and leave them there overnight. Then they return to count the trapped animals early the next morning.

    Mr Boonchom explained that his job needs skill, and catchers have to understand the nature of the rats. Catchers have to know if the rat holes are occupied or vacant, he said. One of the things he looks for, he added, is footprints around the holes.

    "Of course, we have to put the traps in front of the holes that are still active, not the deserted ones," he said.

    But rats are not stupid, he said. They are very smart and know how to survive threats from humans, he added.

    The animals, he said, defuse the deadly traps by throwing small pieces of soil into the traps to clear them before going out to forage in the rice field.

    Despite the booming business, Mr Boonchom said he is confident that there are more rats to catch because the province still has plentiful paddy fields and water.

    Sompote Srikosamat, of Mahidol University's faculty of sciences, said the population of pig rats, or bandicoots in scientific jargon, in Suphan Buri had sharply increased due to the rapid expansion of paddy fields, which is an ideal food source for the rats.

    The steady decrease of snakes, which eat rats, due to the changing environment, and hunting, had also allowed the pig rats to dominate the fields, said the biologist.

    "I don't think the massive hunting of the rat will cause any adverse impact to the ecological system because, with the absence of its natural predators like snakes, the practice will help control the population," said Mr Sompote.

    Although people selling the cooked rats claim they taste delicious, the Public Health Ministry has cautioned the public about their safety.

    Ministry spokesman Sa-nga Damapong voiced concern about the sanitation of the roasted rats.

    The danger comes from the use of pesticides, chemicals and fertiliser by farmers, he added.

    Roasted rats could give people diarrhoea if they are not properly cooked, he said.

    "The rats have similar nutrients like pork and chicken, but less calories.

    "If you want to eat them, please make sure that they are well cooked to avoid the problem of getting diarrhoea," he cautioned.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 030208_news02.jpeg  
    Last edited by Khun Don; 03-02-08 at 06:56 PM. Reason: Added photo from article.

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    yikes, that photo!
    I've read somewhere - can't remember the source -that over 10% of the world's rice crop end up in rats' bellies. makes sense to catch them. I'm not sure I would try though one thing don't understand is the high price, much higher than chicken, though less work - is demand so high that prices can be kept so high? surprising.

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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    Quote Originally Posted by Betti View Post
    yikes, that photo!
    I've read somewhere - can't remember the source -that over 10% of the world's rice crop end up in rats' bellies. makes sense to catch them. I'm not sure I would try though one thing don't understand is the high price, much higher than chicken, though less work - is demand so high that prices can be kept so high? surprising.
    I believe I read a post here about farmers driving on the roads in Isaan stopping to let snakes cross the road as they eat the rats that eat the rice.
    I know that rat is one of David Loves Ubonwan's meals-I would try.
    Last edited by Khun Don; 03-02-08 at 07:06 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    My brother and sister and I used to refer to KFC as "Kentucky Fried Rat" but I no longer do so, KFC is nowhere as good as a rat.

    David
    My new travel blog: https://www.weekender.blog/

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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    They might sound delicious but I am not a fan of Mickey.

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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    Quote Originally Posted by David_Loves_Ubonwan View Post
    My brother and sister and I used to refer to KFC as "Kentucky Fried Rat" but I no longer do so, KFC is nowhere as good as a rat.

    David
    Odd-we used to call it "Kentucky Fried Sparrow" on account of how little you got for your money-come to think of it, all the sparrows have disappeared....

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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    I believe that one species of snake was introduced into Rice fields specifically to eat rats. I think a type Krate snake? maybe someone knows and can save my research coz I am damn lazy this week lol

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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    Thai diners show appetite for rat





    Rats have long been eaten in poorer regions of Thailand


    Roasted rat on sale




    Thai fast food sellers are enjoying a boom in rat sales, as people learn to love the taste of the rodent.
    While rat has long been eaten in Thailand's poorer northern regions, a growing number of the country's roadside vendors are now serving it up.

    The rats are drowned and sold uncooked or ready to eat, with happy customers purchasing rat meat for as much as 150 baht ($4.82; 2.30) a kilogram.

    "It's better than chicken," one customer told the AP news agency.

    'Nothing can compete'

    "It all depends what you like, but it's a normal meat like any other," added Thongyu Roruchit.





    One rat seller, Sala Prompim, said that the hip and liver were the best cuts.

    "It's tastier than other meats - nothing can compete with rat," he added.
    Mr Prompim said he only used rats caught from rice fields, and not those found in towns or cities.

    "They are definitely clean," he said. The animals are killed by drowning, before being skinned ready for cooking - poached, fried, grilled or baked. Mr Prompim says he sells as much as 100kg of rat meat on some days.

    BBC News Online




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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    And it's not only in Thailand, here's an article about near neighbour Vietnam.

    For Vietnamese, The Year of the Rat Starts With LunchRodent-Eating Takes Off, In Response to Bird Flu; Cats, Snakes on Menu, Too
    By JAMES HOOKWAY
    February 6, 2008

    TU SON, Vietnam -- According to the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Rat begins tomorrow. But here it may have started sooner: Unexpected changes in Vietnam's food chain and diet have sparked a rodent-eating bonanza.

    Due to bird flu, field rats have become a popular food in Vietnam. Watch how rats are caught and prepared, and see WSJ reporter James Hookway have a taste.

    In Tu Son, a small village sitting near the banks of the Red River, rat hunter Ngo Minh Tam reckons "99%" of the people regularly dine on rat meat, an estimate local street vendor Nguyen Thi Le supports. "I've sold two kilos [almost 4.5 pounds] in the past quarter hour," she boasts, displaying a large metal bowl of skinned and cleaned bodies.

    Rat-based cuisine is beginning to catch on in the big cities as well. Handwritten signs in some of the backstreets of Hanoi offer cash in return for freshly caught rat. "Both Vietnamese and foreign tourists are eating more rat meat these days," says Pham Huu Thanh, proprietor of the Luong Son Quan restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, the former southern capital Saigon. Mr. Thanh serves rat grilled with lemon grass or roasted in garlic for around 60,000 Vietnamese dong, or $4, a serving. (Rat may taste like chicken, but with a tiny rat drumstick between your fingers, it's hard to pretend it really is.)

    Rats have been a delicacy in Vietnam's rural areas for centuries, with recipes dating back 150 years. For a long time, however, this country's big city folk were generally less enthusiastic, often associating the animals more with garbage-digging vermin than mouth-watering entrees.

    Nguyen Huy Duc stir-fries some rat. Smoking seems to help mask the smell.
    But in 2004, flare-ups of bird flu claimed scores of lives here and prompted many diners to search for alternative sources of protein. Demand went up, but paradoxically supply did too. That's because rats' natural predators -- snakes and cats -- are increasingly finding themselves on the menus of posh restaurants frequented by wealthy Vietnamese.

    In the Le Mat district of Hanoi, dozens of restaurants specialize in snakes either farmed for the table or caught by hunters. Other snakes are shipped to China, where they are also considered a delicacy. A booming economy has caused snake prices to double in the past year in some places to roughly $18 a pound.

    And despite a 1998 government ban on cat consumption enacted to control the rat population, felines are also sometimes eaten at some restaurants; on menus, they appear as "little tiger."

    "If people are eating the rats' natural predators, then that means more rats for us," says the spry Mr. Tam as he pursues his quarry one recent morning. The 53-year-old farmer and part-time taxi driver supplements his income by hunting the rodents in the fields and industrial estates around this village on the outskirts of Hanoi.

    He is joined in the hunt by his friends Ngo Van Phong, 55, and Nguyen Huy Duc, 53, and his two trusty dogs, Muc and Ki. The party gets lucky on some disused land at the back of the Tong Thanh Dong Packaging factory. Muc catches the scent of a rat. After a brief chase she burrows her muzzle into a grass embankment and wags her tail furiously -- a sign she has found a candidate for lunch.

    Digging Into the Ground

    Messrs. Tam and Duc leap into action, digging into the ground, while Mr. Phong secures the rat's possible escape routes. Mr. Duc pulls dry straw from a canvas sack, stuffs it into holes in the embankment and sets it on fire. As the fire takes hold, a fleeing rat ends up instead in a bamboo funnel which Mr. Tam placed over a hole.

    Mr. Tam's favorite rat repast is a stew of rat meat, heart and liver and served up in a steaming broth. "It's just the thing for a cold winter's day," he says.

    In total, Mr. Tam nabs eight rats in 45 minutes. He and his friends sell whatever they don't need for themselves to village market vendors. The vendors sell rat meat for about $1.50 a pound. It's a relative deal. Pork costs roughly a third more, and chicken twice as much.

    The field rats which Mr. Tam and his friends hunt are white and brown, with a diet rich in grain and snails. Although Vietnamese generally don't consume the flea-infested sewer rats of popular imagination, the stigma still lingers. Some restaurants in Vietnam are wary of explicitly offering rat on their menus. Owners worry their customers might suspect they are being served rat meat when they order more expensive chicken dishes.

    At the elegant Dan Toc Quan restaurant in Hanoi, a waitress whispers that she can serve rat -- if the chef can find one. She disappears to the kitchen and comes back shaking her head. "Perhaps you could bring your own rat and we'll cook it for you," she said. Most Vietnamese prefer to prepare their rat at home. In Tu Son, Ngo Thi Thanh one recent day bought almost 4.5 pounds of rat meat to feed 10 of her friends who had dropped in for lunch. "It's difficult to compare the taste of rat to other meat," she says.

    'It's Delicious'

    When Ms. Thanh got home, she carefully washed the rat and chopped the meat into quarters. Bending over a charcoal stove, she fried one batch with salt and steamed the other with lemon leaves as her friends looked on with anticipation. "It's delicious," one said.

    For connoisseurs of rat meat, slightly chubby rats are the most sought after. A thin layer of fat adds more flavor to the meat and provides a satisfying sizzle when the chunks of rat meat are added to the frying pan, they say. It is also best, they add, served with generous servings of potent home-brewed rice wine.

    Some wonder whether the Year of the Rat will help promote the cause of rat cuisine. While rodent vittles are still consumed in China, the popularity of these and other exotic meats waned after epidemiologists traced the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003 to the consumption of weasel-like animals called civets.

    Mr. Tam, the hunter, is underwhelmed by the event. "We don't need an excuse to eat rat," he said.

    --Nguyen Anh Thu and Kersten Zhang contributed to this article

    (Source: Wall Street Journal)

    David
    My new travel blog: https://www.weekender.blog/

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    Re: What's for lunch? Roast rat

    I had rat with the wife's family last week in Ubon, roast and chopped up in a kind of curry. There are always rat dishes around in the months after the harvest when the field rats are fat. It's considered a good meal. I don't find it wonderfully tasty like some of the people interviewed but it's not bad.

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