Moss is not only something that grows on the rocks around Son La but also a unique dish of the region. Moss is taken from underwater rocks in the Ma River and then turned into tasty grilled or fried dishes.
When January comes marking the end of the rainy season, the Ma River transforms into a gentle stream of transparent water.
It is also the time that the moss, a specialty of the Thai ethnic minority, starts to appear all over the place.
The moss there is called Tao Bien, which looks as if it is made of silk. Scattered on the underwater rocks, the lively green moss sway along with the current of the river.
To find the best moss, people must venture to places where the water is pure and deep.
The collected moss is then cleaned, grinded and mixed with fish sauce, salt, garlic, chilly, and fresh herbs.
When cooking the moss, Mac Khen (a local sauce) is added to the mixture before being wrapped in banana leaves. The wrapped moss is then grilled above hot coal until an mouthwatering smell permeates.
When it is done, the dish is only ready to be served when it is accompanied by locally produced wine made of rice and grilled moss, the wine completes the dish and intensifies its sweet flavor.