Coconut worms used to be tasty food in the region of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. But, coconut worms have not been allowed to sell, buy or grow to protect the coconut trees and other plants in the same family. So, you have to notice this tip to avoid being punished a lot of money.
To help some guests who are curious to study the worms of coconut, we introduce their features and some food that the locals used to make in the past.
Coconut worms, also called coconut weevils or Đuông dừa in Vietnamese, are larvae of the coconut beetles with the body not yet fully developed.
The worms live in coconut trees and eat the youngest part of the plants, so they contain plenty of healthy proteins. However, they are only as big as an adult’s index finger, about 3 to 5 cm long, and light yellow in their whole body.
We can only find coconut weevils when the leaves on the top of the coconut are wilted and collapsed. In the Mekong Delta, especially Ben Tre province, worms can eat a lot of coconuts to death.
Usually, every year, after the mating season, dynastinae beetles often choose strong coconut trees to make a hole on the tops to produce eggs.
The eggs hatch and grow up thanks to eating young coconut that is both soft and nutritious. They eat the coconut’s top until it is pierced, exhausting the coconut tree and dying to death.
So, all coconut worms are full of milk, fat, round, and limp, making many people look a little frightened with their outside appearance.
The life cycle of coconut worm
The average life cycle of coconut weevils is about 80-100 days, of which the egg period is 3-5 days, the larva is 50-70 days, and the pupa is 15-20 days. Coconut worms turn into coconut beetles that can live up to 3-4 months. Both larvae and weevils can cause damage to coconut trees, but mainly are worms.
When eating young coconut tops, the weevils make a barrier noise inside the trees like the sound of a rice mill.
To know more about their life, we introduce you to the details below! Continue reading, please!
1. Egg stage:
Eggs are obtained by fertilization of male and female coconut beetles. During the breeding season, the beetles make holes in the tops of trees and lay eggs there. And after spawning, the female will secrete a gastric juice that helps create a hard layer around the eggs to protect them. On average, a female produces 210 eggs per nest.
Characteristics of coconut worm eggs: eggs are white, cylindrical or oval, glossy, about 1-2.5mm in size. The back of the egg has a special structure that contributes to the supply of oxygen to the larvae.
2. Larval stage:
Over time, the eggs will hatch into larvae. This duration is the stage where we call those larvae the coconut worms or coconut weevils. At this stage, they will eat and absorb nutrients inside the soft part of the coconut tree to develop and grow.
Features of the larvae: Coconut larvae are white, yellow (infancy is white and then grow up to an adult stage is yellow), have no legs. The body has segmentation with a small brown head. The maximum size is 5cm.
3. Pupae stage:
Coconut weevils over time will grow up, will eat from the young part of the coconut to go deep into the trunk slowly. By the time it reaches adulthood and enters the next development stage of the life cycle.
Along with the environmental conditions that the coconut tree provides, the dry brown trunk or the branches are worn down into fibers, and the coconut weevil will proceed to create a cocoon around itself into pupae.
Many people start using the coconut worms from the late second stage and the early third stage to eat, because this duration can give the best worms with rich nutrition.
4. Stage into coconut beetle:
After successfully cocooning, coconut weevil turns into pupae and over time will develop in it. If anyone has ever watched the stages of butterfly development, most remember when the butterflies break their cocoons, step out, and spread their wings. The coconut weevil pupae have the same process; the young beetle also breaks the cover to get out.
Characteristics of coconut beetle: its size comes from 2-5cm and brown-red color. Coconut beetles can be considered badass pilots and can travel great distances.
Typical dishes made from coconut worms
A few people use coconut weevils to cook them with fish sauce, or fry, grill, and boil. Here are the dishes used to eat from this special kind of ingredients to research.
1. Salty roasting coconut worms
The fresh worms washed are placed in a saucepan with salt, sugar, and seasoning powder, similar to how to make silkworm pupae. Many families often use this dish as a savory to eat with rice.
2. Breaded fried dish
After pre-processing, put a few peanuts into the body of the worms, roll them through the flour mixture of chicken eggs, a little pepper paste, salt.
Fry them well in a fat pan and then stir over butter to become more fragrant. After frying, let the fat drain, eat coconut worms with raw vegetables to feel less fatty.
3. Baked with salt and chili
The coconut tree worms are skewered into bamboo sticks, grilled over charcoal until golden, then rolled with vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, basil, perilla, green chili, and dipped into the tamarind fish sauce to enjoy.
4. Steamed sticky rice with worms
While steaming sticky rice, add some coconut worms on the surface. The rice and worms are cooked at the same time.
People can eat coconut weevils with sticky rice, or they can also make the milk on worm bodies to mix well with sticky rice.
Diners often enjoy this dish with sweet-sour fish sauce or roasted chicken.
5. Coconut-worm porridge
This simple porridge consists of coconut worms, pork, rice, ginger, green onions, spices, and a little coconut milk.
Particularly with coconut weevils, they need to have a careful process to do:
- wash the worms with cool water,
- put them in a cup of white rice wine for 2 minutes before taking them out,
- put the worms again in a cup of chili fish sauce for a few minutes,
- keep them in the refrigerator to make them better for a while.
This process helps to clean the worms, soak the spices, preventing the worms from breaking out when cooked.
This nutritious porridge is often used to foster health, increase vitality.
6. Bathing fish sauce
This way is to eat fresh worms being alive, also called fun name – coconut weevils swimming in the river. It is because the fat worms swim in a bowl of spicy chili fish sauce.
Due to eating raw, many guests are not brave enough to try it, but the dish has high nutritional content.
Pick up alive weevil into your mouth, chew it slowly to let strange feelings spread in your mouth, and you will feel the sweet taste, like egg yolk and cheese.
7. Boil with coconut water
The young weevils after boiling with fresh coconut water are very fragrant and fatty.
This dish can be rolled with some traditional herbs, wrapping with thin rice paper and dipping them into fish sauce mixed with lemongrass, minced chili.
8. Making coconut salad with weevils
This salad is made from the young coconut bud located in the middle of the top of the coconut tree.
The chef slices the bud into small pieces, mix them with bell peppers, green onions, lobster or shrimp meat, crispy shrimp-puff cake.
Mix all the above-mentioned ingredients well with spices such as mustard, vinegar, olive oil. Then, place it into a plate, and add about fifty golden fried coconut worms on top.
Frequently asked questions about coconut worms:
Is coconut worm safe to eat?
In general, coconut worm is alright to eat when many Vietnamese people can taste it. Typically, when drinking beer or wine, drinkers often like to enjoy coconut worm.
However, it is strange Vietnamese food for foreign tourists, and the local government does not allow to sell coconut worm. Thus please think twice when you want to try it.
What do coconut worms taste like?
Coconut worms taste like fresh milk. But, the feeling to look at the worms and when to bite them is too different from normal food.
Where are the most coconut worms in Vietnam?
Most places to find the coconut worms in Vietnam is in the Mekong delta, where plenty of coconut trees are grown; specifically, in Ben Tre province.
The coconut worms are harmful insects to the coconut trees and other plants in the same family. Thus, these worms are not currently allowed to grow, buy, or sell.
Therefore, to protect coconut trees in Vietnam, especially in the Ben Tre region in the Mekong Delta, we do not encourage visitors to try coconut weevils.