Worm dish warms people in early winter

November 23, 2021 - 09:55
Farmers in Hải Dương, Nam Định and Thái Bình harvest tonnes of clam worms towards the end of the year, supplementing their main income.

Lê Hương

In late autumn and early winter, northern farmers harvest a worm that lives in the silt of coastal fields. The worm is known as rươi, a precious gift from heaven.

It is a rich source of food, thanks to alluvial sediment and zooplankton, and the worms offer lots of nutrition and a greasy taste, which can be used to make several dishes and delicacies of the north.

Fresh clam worms. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

Farmers in Hải Dương, Nam Định and Thái Bình harvest tonnes of rươi towards the end of the year, supplementing their main income which is made from rice. 

When alive, the worms reach 50-60cm in length. However, when they emerge from the silt to give birth they lose their tail, which is two-thirds of their total length. The tail sinks into the silt to fertilise eggs, which is what the farmers harvest. The head and upper part of the worms lie deep in silt to grow back in the next year.

Fried with eggs

Clam worms fried with eggs and minced pork is the most popular dish made from the worms. The dish offers a sweet, greasy and fragrant taste.

Fried egg with clam worms and pork. — Photo eva.vn

The ingredients include chopped mandarin peels and ginger, which brings a hot and fragrant taste.

When served hot the dish warms people in the cool weather of early winter with lots of nutrition.

In Eastern medicine, clam worm contains lots of calcium, phosphorous, iron and zinc, which can help patients with weak digestion and blood pressure.

Soup with bamboo shoot

Chef Trương Văn Thái, owner of Thái Hòa Restaurant in An Thanh Commune, Tứ Kỳ District of Hải Dương Province, is proud of his clam worm soup, made with minced pork, bamboo shoot, egg, sweet gourd leaves and piper lolot leaves. The soup also contains leaves of tầm bỏi (Indian gooseberry), which offers a sour and sweet taste, as well as star fruit.

He boils cheekbones to make the sweet water. He then stirs minced pork, chopped bamboo shoots, sweet gourd leaves, piper lolot leaves, some ginger, some onion and some eggs. The eggs bind all the ingredients together.

A soup of clam worms and bamboo shoots. —  Photo ruoi.com.vn

The mixture is then put gently into the boiled bone soup with some tầm bỏi leaves.

When it is well cooked, the soup is topped with more sweet gourd leaves, piper lolot leaves and pepper. The soup is then served hot.

“The soup should smell good and mouth-watering while the colour should be yellowish,” he said. “The taste is really special.”

Stew with star fruits

Another delicacy of clam worms is stewing them with star fruit. The fresh worms should be blanched first to make them harder.

Chef Đinh Văn Lượng from Song Ngư Restaurant in Cửa Lò, in the central province of Nghệ An, said he fries onions with pork together with some chopped ginger, green pepper, peel of mandarin, sliced turnip and star fruit. Then he adds salt, sugar, fish sauce and pepper before adding water. When the water boiled, he puts the scalded worms in and stews them for 10-20 minutes over a medium fire.

Stewed clam worms with star fruits. — Photo dacsanbakien.com

“The final dish should be dry with almost intact forms of worms,” he said. “The fatty worm tastes sweet when combined with sour star fruit and the fragrance of herbs is good in winter,” he said.

Northern people often add eggs at the end of the cooking process and stew them for up to three hours.

Locals in Hải Dương stew the ingredients in a clay pot and add some more bamboo shoots. The dish should be served hot with boiled rice.

Roll in vegetable

Fried spring rolls of clam worm is another delicacy.

Like in a traditional spring roll clam worms are added inside the rice pancake along with minced pork, vermicelli, onion egg and some chopped peel of tangerine.

The spring roll is then fried on a medium fire until it is light brown and the inside is well cooked.

“The spring roll should have a mouth-watering smell with unforgettable taste,” said Hanoian housewife Lương Mỹ Uyên.

She said she often makes this kind of spring roll to entertain her sister when she visits home from France.

"Then my sister brings the spring roll back to Paris as a special gift for her family there," Uyên said.

Fried rolls of pork and clam worms wrapped inside piper lolot is another dish that Uyên often makes.

Fried rolls in piper lolot is more simple to make than the spring roll wrapped in a rice pancake and is more suitable for a weekday meal. The spring roll is reserved for parties, she said. VNS

Fried rolls in piper lolot. — Photo danviet.vn