Introduction of  Nga Pi in Dawei

Dawei is a city in the Tanintharyi region and it has an amazing Peninsula. The livelihood of local people in Dawei are fishermen, rubber palm and oil palm  planters, farmers and gardeners. Dawei has many local products in the food category which are  Nga Pi (fish & shrimp paste), Pa Ohn Yi (Dawei vinegar), dried fish & shrimp and durian, pineapple and nipa jam. The city is located along the coast and it can get many seafood products. 

In Dawei, Nga Pi is mostly made with small shrimps and it sometimes contains small fish. Local people salt small fish and small shrimps, place them in the sun and then pound them in a mortar to make Nga Pi. The duration of ferment in the pot  to obtain Nga Pi takes 3 to 4 months. When fermentation of Nga Pi, some people add a little oil at the mouth of the pot to get a good smell of Nga Pi. The taste of Nga Pi is salty and the smell is different from fish and shrimp according to the duration of fermentation in the pot.Local people (especially farmers, gardeners, fishermen and manual labourers) eat Nga Pi together with fresh and boil vegetables as a basic food for their nutrition and daily eating routine.Local people eat Nga Pi as dishes which are tomato, chicken and shrimp Nga Pi curry, fried rice together with Nga Pi and fried shrimp paste.

Making Nga Pi in a Mortar (Photo Credit: Pin Lal Thu)

Variety of Nga Pi in Dawei

In Dawei,  local people produce two kinds of Nga Pi  that are Sein Sar Nga Pi (Shrimp and fish paste) and Myin Nga Pi (shrimp paste).

Sein Sar Nga Pi (Shrimp or Fish Paste)

Sein Sar Nga Pi is made by local people with small fishes (mostly used fishes are Commerson anchovies)  and small shrimps. People dry small fishes and small shrimps in the sun for about 3 days and then pound them in a mortar. Small fish and shrimps become to be assimilated, people add salt in a mortar and pound them again.The time taken for fermentation is about 3 to 4 months. Sein Sar Nga Pi is produced in the Tanintharyi region and it is also called Dawei Sein Sar Nga Pi and Myeik Sein Sar Nga Pi based on their region. Local people of Tanintharyi region use Nga pi which are Nga Pi salad together with vegetables, pounded Nga Pi with sour fruits, curry (chicken, fish, pork), soups (Mote Latt Thouk) and salads (Dawei papaya salad).

Dawei Sein Sar Nga Pi Salad with Vegetables (Photo Credit: Ma Thin Zar)

Myin Nga Pi (shrimp paste)

The method of making the Myin Nga Pi  process is the same with Sein Sar Nga Pi. The name of Myin Nga Pi is derived from a fishing drag net (Myin is the Burmese name) and it only contains small shrimps (Gway Kaug is the Burmese name). The colour of Myin Nga Pi look like as pink colour. This Nga Pi is made mostly in Ayeyarwady region and Rakhine State and a few people make Myin Nga Pi in the Mon State and Tanintharyi region especially Lonelon township and Myeik District. 

Nga Pi Market in Dawei

Before Covid 19 period, local people in Dawei sold Nga Pi in markets, souvenir shops and stores.The popular souvenir shops to buy local products of Nga Pi in Dawei are Doh Dawei, KKK, Pin Lal Thu and Mali Nga Pi shops. The price of Nga Pi does not vary from year to year and the price is between 2000kyats for 1 viss (Burmese unit of weight) or 1.6 Kg and 2500 kyats for 1 viss or 1.6 Kg. One of the sellers in Dawei said that

“the highest purchasing time of Nga Pi is in Thadingyut month of Myanmar Calendar (October) because at this time small shrimps are abundant (Gway Kaug is the  Burmese name) to make Nga Pi. People think that they can get it fresh and it looks like the pink colour of Nga Pi at that time. But some people like the long duration of fermenting Nga Pi because the taste is better”.
Packing of Nga Pi at a shop (Photo Credit: Pin Lal Thu)

During Covid 19 period, people applied the method of staying at home and the shops started to apply the social distance method. Local people struggled with difficulties like currency inflation and shortage of raw materials due to Covid 19, but distributing information on social media was a way to solve this problem.The social media market became a useful way to promote their products to sellers and wholesalers during Covid 19 period. The network of social media markets is wider and the shops connect with delivery services in their townships to distribute their products to buyers. Recently , the price of Nga Pi was a little high and the price became 4000 to 8000 kyats for 1 viss or 1.6 kg. The price of fresh Nga Pi and long duration Nga Pi is different. But local people are continuously demanding Nga Pi for their daily eating routine. However, people now have a chance to choose a variety of Nga Pi from social media based outlets according to their income and desired quality. And then, they have not lost their time to go shopping instead of delivery services. Nowadays, manufacturers can produce a variety of Nga Pi as a ready to eat product and it is convenient for office workers. 

In summary,different kinds of Nga Pi in Dawei are essential condiments for local people in their daily life.Nowadays, the purchasing power of Nga Pi by local people is  still stable in Dawei. If we create a variety of Nga Pi with good packaging, better quality for our health, reasonable prices, ready to eat products catering for  everyone; we can export as one of the local products.

You can directly buy Nga Pi (shrimp & fish paste) from souvenir shops in Dawei.

March 14, 2022