Photos: Chi Hoa

As chilly winds sweep through Hanoi’s narrow lanes, vendors set up stalls selling fried ragworms. While some people might be scared to eat worms, these pink and silver worms are a key ingredient in a special kind of meatballs.

Ragworms are such a delicacy here that one of the ancient guild streets in Hanoi’s thousand-year-old Old Quarter is named Hàng Rươi (Ragworm Wares). In the past, each year around Lunar September, ragworm vendors would gather here. The writer Vu Bang mentioned ragworms as a specialty of Hanoi: “In the ragworm season, to fail to relish ragworms is like a fair woman wasting her youth, then forever mourning the loss…”

The cook carefully cleans the ragworms, then dries them and mixes them with finely ground pork, spices including fennel, fish sauce, salt, pepper and spring onions. Another essential ingredient is grated tangerine peel. A chicken egg is added to bind the ingredients, which are fried and served piping hot.

The meatballs are crunchy on the outside and soft inside. They are served with a sauce of fish sauce and soaked shallots. Try this local delicacy at: 1 Hang Chieu Street or at the end of Lo Duc Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.