Braised Ruoi of Tu Ky

 Going to Tu Ky in Hai Duong province, visitors can enjoy specialties made from Ruoi (a kind of rag worm whose scientific name is Tylorrhynchus heterocheatus).  They can eat dishes such as Ruoi omelets, rolls of Ruoi or Ruoi cooked with bamboo shoots. Among them, braised Ruoi stands out as an intriguing dish.

Ruoi belongs to a family of Polychaeta worms that live in brackish water, and is often only visible during short periods of time each year. As goes an old saying: “Thang chin doi muoi, thang muoi mung nam”, Ruoi can only be caught on the 20th day of the 9th lunar month and the 5th day of the 10th lunar month.

Ruoi is rich in parotid, a lipid that is an essential nutrient for the body. In addition, it possesses large amounts of important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.

Tu Ky residents harvest Ruoi.

Ingredients to make braised Ruoi include Ruoi, pork, ginger and tangerine peel.

Tangerine peel helps protect against stomach ache due to a substance inside Ruoi.

Braised Ruoi is made from popular ingredients that can be easily found in the Vietnamese countryside.

Thoroughly cleaned Ruoi is put into a pot with chopped ingredients and boiling water.

After boiling, the mixture is put in the middle of a straw ring to simmer with
a top cover of straw to keep the heat in, cooking the dish gradually.

Braised Ruoi.

In order to make braised Ruoi, the cook needs to select big, fat, red-coloured ones. Other ingredients to be added are bamboo shoots, ginger, tangerine peel, green onion, Vietnamese coriander, pork, and spices. Each ingredient is so important that the lack of any can result in an incomplete taste. For instance, tangerine peel creates the typical aroma and prevents stomach ache while ginger reduces the fishy smell and pork enriches the dish.

After being thoroughly cleaned, Ruoi is mixed with other ingredients that have been chopped and put in a terra-cotta pot with boiling water. The mixture is boiled and then simmered. The simmering method is unique as the boiling pot is put in the middle of a ring made of straw which is burned to create heat while the top of the pot is covered with a layer of rice husk. The dish is slowly cooked over a period of 4-5 hours.

A pot of braised Ruoi delivers typical aroma of tangerine peel and flavours of ginger, chili, the fatty flavor of Ruoi and the richness of pork. This dish can be stored in the fridge or transported a long distance. This is a typical dish of the region that faraway people long to taste especially during Tet.

People can buy braised Ruoi from Vietnamese Specialty Trading Company Ltd. (DANISAVINA)
Address: 62 Nguyen Khang Street, Hanoi.

By Tran Thanh Giang