Quang Ninh province is not only famous for its scenery, its people and its culture, but also known for unique cuisine that can only be found in this northern locality. One of these, in particular is Sa sung, a special seafood with a strange name but very high value.

Sa Sung is a species of worm that  lives deep in the sand, around the coastal dunes of Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen. This species is very rare and expensive. In Halong Bay, it is found only in Quan Lan and Minh Chau island (Van Don island).

Sa Sung is a mollusc that only inhabits the coastal tidal shallows. Shaped like a giant colorful worm,  it hides in gaps in the sand at depths between 10 and 30 meters. Averaging about 5 to 10 cm long, mature Sa Sung can reach up to 40 cm long, 20 cm in diameter, and weigh up 3 kg.

People here usually catch them in early morning. When feeding at night, Sa sung leaves many traces in the sand, allowing the local fishermen to locate their burrows. When captured, they wrap themselves in a ball and their skin changes color once they leave the sea environment.

Sa sung is used to create a very rare seafood. Since ancient times, they have been exploited to make tributes to kings and mandarins, long considered a food of royalty and people of means.

An Aphrodisiac for Men

According to Traditional Oriental medicine, Dried Sa sung can be used as a male aphrodisiac. To make the medicine, they are processed by brining, boiling and drying. When ready to use, you can just boil them again and cut them into small pieces cooked with Chinese herbs or chicken. They can also be mixed with pepper and grilled, diners tend to have roasted Sa Sung with beer. They can also be shredded like shredded dried squid. The texture is both crunchy and soft, and tastes sweet, albeit a little fatty.

Dried Sa Sung

How to cook this dish?

They have to been washed carefully, ensuring all sand is removed from their insides. You should wash them under water until the worm has turned an ivory-white color. Fresh Sa Sung is cooked in different ways such as sauteed with garlic, kohlrabi, stir fried with sweet and sour herbs or even friend.In the traditional noodle dishes of Hanoi and Nam Dinh, it is added to the beef stock to increase the sweetness of the broth.

sweet and sour Sa Sung

Pho with Sa Sung

Sa sung has a natural sweet taste, so you don’t need to add any sugar – just a little salt. The locals here say that if you have one chance to try this food, you will never forget it. In Quang Ninh, the price of fresh Sa Sung is 500.000-600000 VND per kg and dried Sa Sung is up to 4 million VND per kg – as expensive as gold.

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