December 7, 2022

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Teredo Navalis – Look Like Worms, Style Like Clams (แกงเลียงเพรียง)

Taking a ship by the mangrove forest in Trat

I’ve been exploring a few of Thailand’s most unique dishes, so together with consuming uncooked pig’s blood soup in Chiang Rai, and tadpoles in Isaan, we headed to Trat Province to supply and eat one thing referred to as shipworms or priyang talay (เพรียงทะเล) in Thai.

Proper after we completed harvesting some lamp shell fish from the Gulf of Thailand, we then headed into the mangrove forest, on a hunt for these wooden consuming worms.

It’s a area of Thailand that’s recognized for its seafood and for its considerably preserved custom of fishing and use of the ocean.

เพรียงทะเล
priyang talay (เพรียงทะเล) – naval shipworms

Also called naval shipworms, teredo navalis are a sort of saltwater dwelling mollusk that survive off consuming wooden. The top of the worms is sort of a drill bit, and they’re able to eat their means by wooden that’s often both submerged in water or subsequent to water.

That’s the explanation they’re steadily known as shipworms, as a result of you’ll be able to think about they typically trigger havoc to picket boats. They’re kind of like ocean dwelling termites.

Regardless of the best way they appear to be slimy worms, they’re really way more much like shellfish, like clams or oysters, moderately than worms like grubs or inch worms.

In Thailand’s Trat province, and in different components of southeast Asia, naval shipworms are a prized meals.

naval shipworms
We received out of the boat to go looking

A  native fishermen took us to a spot within the mangrove forest, the place we might dock on the roots and stroll on marshy land, to seek out bushes and items of wooden that had been potential properties to shipworms.

เพรียงทะเล
Hacking open driftwood to seek out shipworms (เพรียงทะเล)

Our fishermen knew precisely the place to seek for teredo navalis (เพรียงทะเล), and in actually only a few minutes, he had discovered a chunk of useless driftwood, and by seeing a gap within the wooden, he might inform there was a shipworm dwelling inside.

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Utilizing an axe, he hacked open the log, and inside the crimson coloured soggy wooden inside, certain sufficient, there have been a pair of juicy shipworms.

Bizarre Thai food
Simply slide them out of the wooden

The factor it’s important to watch out about when harvesting shipworms is that you just don’t reduce them in half once you’re slicing the wooden.

Not that it will actually matter, however simply to maintain issues neat it was greatest to slice the wooden lengthwise and kind of wiggle the worms out of their picket tunnels.

เพรียงทะเล
Teredo navalis, often known as naval shipworms, and priyang talay in Thai (เพรียงทะเล)

Are you able to see the heads of the teredo navalis?

They’d somewhat shell, much like any shell fish, on the entrance – that’s the half I name the drill bit. Shipworms go head first into a chunk of wooden, consuming their means right into a tunnel.

naval shipworms
Slimy and smooth, and a few of them had been almost 1/2 a meter lengthy

The top solely has a tiny shell, whereas the physique is all utterly bare, slimy and smooth, just like the insides of an oyster, solely lengthy and thin like a worm.

naval shipworms
Some locals prefer to eat them uncooked as is

Many locals in Trat eat teredo navalis (เพรียงทะเล) uncooked, proper out of the wooden. Our fisherman information took an extended one, and slurped it down like a noodle.

As tempting because it regarded, I made a decision to not danger any water borne ailments, so I made a decision to not attempt it uncooked, though I actually would have liked to. There’s nothing higher than consuming meals proper out of its habitat.

bizarre thai foods
Slicing the shipworms to make a stew

Whereas many locals eat shipworms uncooked, I made a decision to not danger the results of uncooked seafood, and so an aunty from Moo Baan Bred Nai (หมู่บ้านเปร็ดใน) village (the village the place we had gone fishing, sort of an eco village in Trat) cooked a dish referred to as gaeng liang priyang (แกงเลียงเพรียง), mainly an area teredo navalis curry.

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Step one was to only take the shipworms and slice them into chunk sized items.

eating banana flower
The opposite major ingredient was banana flower

The opposite major ingredient within the gaeng liang priyang (แกงเลียงเพรียง) was hua pli, or banana flower.

She solely used the very inside of the banana flower, explaining that she solely needed the tender shoots.

teredo navalis
Cooking teredo navalis

The recipe was really fairly easy.

She simply boiled some water, added in native shrimp paste for saltiness and flavoring, boiled down the banana flower with some Thai chilies, after which lastly added the chopped ship worms on the closing stage in order to not overcook them.

teredo navalis
The milkiness got here solely from the naval shipworms

As quickly as she added the shipworms, the curry took on a murky colour, regardless of there being no coconut milk within the dish.

It virtually regarded like tom kha gai, Thai coconut milk soup, however once more, there was no coconut milk within the recipe; The creaminess was all a results of the naval shipworms.

Whereas we had been cooking, a few of the girls defined to us that priyang (เพรียงทะเล) are common for ladies in Trat to eat after giving beginning.

แกงเลียงเพรียง
The completed product – gaeng liang priyang (แกงเลียงเพรียง) – teredo navalis curry

Ultimately, the gaeng liang priyang (แกงเลียงเพรียง) was able to be eaten, and I used to be prepared and excited to offer it a attempt for the primary time.

In all honesty, the naval shipworms had a close to equivalent taste to clams, and after being cooked, they’d a really comparable texture to any cooked shellfish.

Maybe the items of shipworm had been somewhat extra earthy tasting than clams, however actually it tasted fairly comparable. The slices of younger banana flower had been smooth and barely crisp within the contemporary kind of means, and the broth was skinny, but barely milky from the shipworm juices.

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I can truthfully say it was scrumptious, and if you happen to get an opportunity to attempt gaeng liang priyang (แกงเลียงเพรียง), you shouldn’t hesitate.

eating naval shipworms
It was really extraordinarily scrumptious

There’s an area delicacy within the Trat province of Thailand referred to as priyang (เพรียง), which in English is named both naval shipworms or teredo navalis.

Although they appear to be lengthy slimy worms, in actuality they’re really sea mollusks, extra much like shellfish than worms.

Once I was in Trat, together with some native fishermen, we went into the mangrove forest, and it didn’t take lengthy earlier than our information had hacked open a number of items of drift wooden and was quickly pulling the slimy creatures out of their picket holes.

We took the teredo navalis (เพรียง) again to the village the place a number of aunties made gaeng liang priyang (แกงเลียงเพรียง), a sort of curry or soup made with the teredo navalis.

It was scrumptious, virtually like clam chowder.

Would you prefer to eat some priyang (เพรียง)? And would you attempt them uncooked, proper out of the piece of wooden?