To the people who love Hanoi traditional food, not eating the dishes made of clam worm at the end of autumn is an incompleteness.
When is the clam worm season?
Clam worms or ragworms belong to the nereididae family and inhabit widely in the tropical coasts.
The breeding season of clam worms is at the end of autumn and early winter. However, mature clam worms only float on water surface at night when the tide is in. Therefore, to catch clam worm, people often stay up late. They have to be hurry because when the tide is out, clam worms will hide in the hole under the sand. Clam worms will be sold in the market in the morning.
The clam worm season has been written in the folk song as an experience, the folk song said that the clam worm appear between the twentieth of lunar September and the fifth of lunar October. That is such a short period of time, but it repeats regularly as a rule. Clam worms only appear within 15 days as mentioned in the song. The amount of clam worm that people can catch is not large, so they are sold like hot cakes.
Although the worms look so terrifying, the dishes made of them are attractive enough to fascinate the tourists of Hanoi local food tours
Where in Hanoi are the clam worms sold?
In Hanoi, the most crowded places of selling and purchasing this special goods are Dong Xuan Market, Hom Market and Hue Street. Yet, the clam worm sellers are present in the market for 2 or 3 days and give the people who love the food made of these creatures the great longing.
In Hanoi, there has also been a street named Hang Ruoi next to Dong Xuan Street where the clam worms are sold every year. Nevertheless, clam worms now can be purchased in all 36 streets of Hanoi from early morning. The sellers also try to sell as quick as possible before the worms die. Clam worms cannot survive in the hot weather.
The transformations of clam worms
Hanoians are good at processing clam worm. The tastiest dishes of clam worm is grilled clam worm. 200 grams of clam worm is mixed with 300 grams of minced pork, two duck eggs, three teaspoons of fish sauce, a teaspoon of pepper, a wisp of shredded tangerine skin, dill… Use a large chopstick to beat these ingredients together until becoming the thick, smooth and sticky liquid. The oil is boiled in a pan before frying the liquid of clam worm and other ingredients. People carefully scoop and pour the liquid into the pan to make the round pieces. This dish is called cha ruoi, which is a familiar delicacy of Hanoi street food with the golden brow color and the fragrant smell.
Braised clam worm is also a unique dish in Hanoi. Clam worms are braised in the earthen pots to keep the characteristic smell and flavor. In the bottom of the pot is sliced ginger, star fruit, radish, shredded tangerine skin, dill, jackfruit leaves. The next layer is clam worms. Finally, people scatter some salt and spices, pour the water and braise the clam worm over a low heat. The braised clam worms are so greasy.
To enjoy clam worm all year round, Hanoians also make sauce form clam worm. Clam worms are put in a jar and salted. After that, people pour the water until covering all the worms. Finally, people pour a small cup of wine and 100 grams of powdered grilled rice. The jar is lidded and dried in the sun. After 2 weeks, clam worms turn into thick liquid. The sauce can be mixed with lime juice, chili, tangerine skin, ginger, crushed peanut and mashed shrimp to make the sauce mixture eaten with many types of meat, vegetables or rolls dishes. The sauce is also cooked with the egg white, shallot, garlic, tangerine skin, peanut and shrimp in a pan. This dish is rich of protein.
Those dishes are not only served in the family meals, but it is also a familiar Hanoi cooking class that many people cannot resist during the short period of clam worm season.