Sangi, Saebi, Sabangi
Sangi, Saebi, Sabangi Toha is the name of a freshwater shrimp that is also known in the local dialect as sangi, saebi, or sabangi. The shrimp live for 18 months and have a spawning season from the end of March to early April. Between November and January, the shrimp are caught and sold on the market. They are found in non-polluted rivers or flooded rice fields in southwestern South Korea (Naju-si and Yeongam-gun). Thanks to the type of soil (called sajilto) in this upper river area, the shrimp have a clean, crisp, non-fishy flavor. In the past, people would catch the shrimp by placing pine twigs into streams and lifting the twigs when shrimp were attached, or with fishing nets. The shrimp would be caught during the agricultural off-season, after the rice harvest. They are used in the preparation of many typical dishes, such as toha-jut (salted toha shrimp), which is prepared after 2-3 months of salting and fermentation and is often served with boiled barley. This dish dates back to at least the Joseon Dynasty. The shrimp may also be preserved for a longer time by being layered in salt. Toha shrimp are very sensitive to water conditions, and require clean water not contaminated with pesticides or pollution. Today, less expensive varieties of shrimp such as jul or jinggemi shrimp have replaced toha shrimp in traditional recipes. Because of their quality and rarity, toha shrimp can fetch 10 times the price of other shrimp on the market, and so often these varieties are sold labeled as toha shrimp, or are sold mixed with a small quantity of real toha shrimp. As environmental protections in the area are instated, it is hoped that the local wild toha shrimp population will rebound.