Nolgastic Ruoi (Ragworm) Season in October

Ruoi (ragworm) is a delicacy this time of year – the delicious smell of it cooking is very pervasive, a temptation to passers-by.
October 10, 2023 | 10:07

In the 10th month of the lunar calendar, the scent of Cha Ruoi (fried ragworm omelet) has filled the side walks of Hanoi. Walking slowly on the roads, it's lucky to "bump" into a seductive scent, which suddenly appears right in front of your nose.

Specialty dish

Hanoi people are considered gourmets and wormwood is one of the precious foods because it is nutritious and helps increase vitality. Not only that, worms have long become a traditional dish of Hanoians, an opportunity for women of the family to show off their culinary skills when having distinguished guests.

Ruoi (Ragworm) Season in October
Many may shiver at first glance at the dish made of worm-like creatures, but those worms are important ingredients to make a unique specialty of Hanoi.

To make a delicious dish, once eaten and remembered forever, this food that is not easy to find requires skillful housewives who know how to prepare such a horrifying creature into a specialty dish. However, there are also many people who are weak-minded, just looking at those slimy creatures makes them shiver, even though they are ready to be placed on the table and invited to eat, they still do not dare to touch chopsticks.

Among the most visually challenging dishes, worms are probably at the top. People in the South have bats, coconut worms, field mice then meeting worms from the North is truly a match. Therefore, both the cook and the eater need a certain courage.

The most important and complicated process when processing worms is the preparatory process. They must mix with hot water, pour Ruoi into the pot and stir well, rinse all the impurities mixed in the worms, then wash over and over again with hot water until water's clean, take them out and drain before processing. Ruoi can be prepared in many ways but the most popular dish is still Cha ruoi (fried ragworm omelet).

Fried ragworm omelet is even more precious because Ruoi only appears for a short time. The season lasts exactly one month, coinciding with autumn. It must have tangerine peel, secondly, the spicy taste of chili because they have the effect of masking the fishy taste, and indispensable herbs such as dill, coriander and green onions.

The tangerine peel will be finely chopped and marinated with delicious fish sauce. Stir the sliced onions with lard and then stir-fry the worms until cooked. Many people also add minced pork belly.

Taste of homeland

When preparing, chefs must prepare all kinds of spices. Mix Ruoi with minced pork, then beat the eggs, and chopped dill, add thinly sliced tangerines. Everything is mixed well and marinated with delicious fish sauce, sprinkled with pepper, then poured into a frying pan over low heat.

If any family makes worm meat patties, it is impossible to hide it from the neighbors because the aroma will travel throughout the compound, causing the neighbors to swallow their saliva. Perhaps because of that haunting aroma, many overseas Vietnamese kept remembering this dish. At that time, the memories were like a train running straight back to the time. As soon as we finished school, we walked into the house, heard the smell of fried ragworm omelet coming from the kitchen, and after waiting for a long time, Mother served them to us on the tray.

Ruoi (Ragworm) Season in October
Ruoi omelette is usually served with rice vermicelli, sweet-and-sour fish sauce and fresh herbs.

Cha ruoi is not available all year round. The short season is why Hanoians regard cha ruoi as a special but expensive gift from nature. They have to chew slowly and savor to fully enjoy the fatty flavor of the worms, the pungent taste of tangerine peel, the aromatic aroma of dill, and the spiciness of chili. People who eat Ruoi eat slowly, in addition to their inherent elegance, it is also as if they are afraid that the worm season will suddenly pass. They eat as if they want to hold on to the flavor, to store it until the next season.

Ruoi (Ragworm) Season in October
The worm omelet is usually served with rice vermicelli, sweet-and-sour fish sauce, and fresh herbs.
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Hannah Nguyen
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