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Must Try Food in Xiamen. Sand Worm or Tusun Jelly 土笋冻


It's been described as "Xiamen's Number One Local Snack" 廈門第一風味小吃. Yes, it is exactly what you see in the picture - it's big fat sand worms 星蟲 encased in translucent jello. Love it or loathe it, it is a memorable "Must Try" experience for the adventurous foodie traveller 😂


My first taste of sand worm jelly was at the welcome dinner hosted on 2 Nov 2017 by Xiamen Overseas Friendship Association at Lakeside Hotel (by Xiamen Airlines).


Ground Bamboo Jello 土笋冻 was the appetiser, the first dish served during the sumptuous dinner.

The squid tentacles looked familiar and tantalising - it made the jelly looked unsuspectingly innocuous. Our gracious hosts told us that it's 土笋冻 which translates roughly as "ground bamboo jelly". Sounds interesting and possibly delicious - I thought to myself.


On closer look, it's fat worms embedded in translucent jelly 😱

It's Sand Worm 星蟲 Jelly. The dish is eaten with soy sauce, vinegar, sweet sauce, peppery sauce, spicy sauce, garlic sauce, mustard, radish - anything to calm the squeamish. As usual, I like to taste my food neat, even if it is worms .... 😂

The jelly was soft with just a slight firmness. The jelly had a mild savoury flavour like diluted soy sauce. The worm felt soft chewy spongy to the bite. Its skin was soft with a rough texture. The worm had no flavour or aroma.

It's not something that I would crave for but will gladly eat it again when it is served.


We were served sand worm jelly again at our dinner at 味友 restaurant. Xiamen folks are really proud of this unique dish 😄


味友 is a popular Xiamen home grown restaurant (serving Xiamen specialities) with more than 10 outlets. We were at the 和平碼頭 (Peace Harbour) outlet.

Public Domain photo

This famous Xiamen dish is not a delicacy designed by royal chefs for the Emperor as many renown Chinese dishes were. It is a dish created out of desperation by starving sailors. Legend has it that hungry ancient seamen in Xiamen resorted to digging up sea worms from the muddy sea shore for food.


They ate it simply by boiling the worms in water which turned into a gooey gel with the worms suspended inside (sticky worm soup.... just the thought of it 😱 We know the ancient sailors were very brave people 😄). There is no exquisite technique involved. In the modern version, the gel (collagen) is chilled in a fridge or with ice to make jelly 冻.

Whether it tasted good or not, the protein rich worms saved the old navy and is considered one of Xiamen's iconic traditional food to this day 😄


Today, sand worm jelly is a popular street food especially with curious tourists. Ladies like Tusun Jelly as the collagen is good for supple smooth skin 😄 There are even shops and stalls specialising in the dish. This 果然好 outlet is near the Zhongshan Road Walking Street (pedestrianised mall).


果然好's signature sand worm jelly is densely packed with sand worms (costs RMB20 a serving). 

After checking around, I think this is value for money 😄 The less expensive ones have less worms and have gelatin powder added (instead of collagen from worms).


My third time eating sand worm jelly was at 曾厝垵. It's an old fishing village now re-purposed into an eating and shopping street, and the former fishermen homes converted into tourist accommodation.


There are many food stalls here catering to tourists. All the Xiamen specialities are here - look out for Spring Rolls 春卷, Spicy Noodles 沙茶面, Oyster Omelette 海蛎煎, Chive Dumplings 韭菜盒, Xiamen Glutinous Rice 厦门烧肉粽, Xiamen Fish Balls 厦门鱼丸, Peanut Soup 花生汤, Braised Duck with Ginger 姜母鸭, Starchy Noodles 面线糊 etc


I counted three stalls selling sand worm jelly.


Less worm, less collagen, more gelatin powder here. Perhaps, more palatable for tourists wanting just that Facebook and Instagram photo 😜

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👉 When you are in Xiamen, try "Xiamen's Number One Local Snack" 廈門第一風味小吃 😄 I would gladly eat sea worm jelly or Tusun Jelly 土笋冻 again anytime I have the chance 😋

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I travelled to Xiamen by Xiamen Airlines.

✈ Xiamen Airlines MF874 departs Singapore for Xiamen at 8:55am everyday. Xiamen Airlines MF852 departs Singapore for Xiamen at 3:15pm everyday.

✈ Xiamen Airlines MF851 departs Xiamen for Singapore at 9:45am everyday. Xiamen Airlines MF873 departs Xiamen for Singapore at 5:40pm everyday.

Date visited: 2 - 5 Nov 2017

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  1. Just tried it in a village banquet in Quanzhou. Tasted good. I went for three rounds! :)


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