Sea-worm sauce

The Binh Dai sea in my home district has various kinds of seafood to offer visitors. Delicious dishes made from fish, shrimp, clam, shellfish, crab, etc and the likes have been so familiar.

Then, there is another rare but well-known speciality that my home district may also offer: the sea-worm sauce. Not only is it a common flavouring sauce among local households, but it also is a kind of nutritious foodstuff characteristic of the coastal lands. 

And sea-worm eating is an original culture here. The creatures are blended in cooking flour and then deep-fried. But, what make it well-known is the sauce - the sea-worm sauce that can be used for various dining meals, both humble and high-class.

It's the sea-worm, the main constituent of the sauce, that matters. Sea-worm generally lives in the estuary areas, where saltish water is the main ecological scheme. In Ben Tre, the creatures concentrate mostly in Thoi Thuan and Thanh Phuoc Communes.

Around the 11th and 12th Lunar months every year, the grown-up creatures flock all to the estuaries. They crowd the water so much that there is a common idiom in Vietnamese that says "as much/many as sea-worm(s)". And, its deliciousness is also reflected in another idiom, say "selling like sea-worm" (the equivalence in English is "selling like hot cakes"). The last season of the Lunar year has for long been the season for sea-worm fishing. People flock in great number to the water where sea-worm concentrates. On high seasons, fishing may last to Tet Holiday, and many fishers still hang up with the sea-worm and by-pass the Tet.

It's easy to catch the sea-worm in my home district. Just use any means, from a piece of coarse cloth to a square meter of mosquito-net, and dip it down under the water then draw up. Sea-worm then is put into containers and blended with salt. Cover it tightly and let it be. Then, about a fortnight later, the mixture can be cooked and filtered also through a piece of coarse cloth or mosquito-net. The end-product sea-worm sauce color ranges from dark yellow to light brown, and if carefully treated, the sauce may have a darker color shade, which is considered more delicious than lighter colors. It is said that the longer the salted sea-worm is laid covered up, the more delicious the end-product sauce would be.

Like fish sauce, sea-worm sauce is also a flavouring sauce used along with a wide range of foods in daily meals by locals. Especially on Tet Holiday, sea-worm sauce is an indispensable flavouring to make the Tet more tasty. Today, many from Binh Dai home district, who are living and working far away from home, still retain the delicious taste of their home land.