For many Vietnamese, dishes such as mouse, bug larvae or insects are specialties. However, not everyone enjoys these. For foreigners, to experience a different culinary taste, can be real challenge! Let’s discover 6 weird Vietnamese foods which dare you to eat in Vietnam.
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Thắng Cố — Horse Organ Stew & Nậm Pịa — Goat Intestine Stew
Not only animal meat, internal organs and offal are also cooked by Vietnamese people. Amongst dishes made from organs, ethnic people in mountainous areas of Vietnam often enjoy thắng cố (horse organ stew) or nậm pịa (goat intestine stew). Even Vietnamese cannot stomach these two dishes! Nậm pịa is cooked from the small intestine of goats along with their blood. The dish, with its smell and bitter flavor, is a favorite of many people where it is served, in Son La (Northern Vietnam). Meanwhile, thắng cố can be found in Lao Cai and Ha Giang. This dish made from horse, which is served in every market of these mountainous areas can make many diners shudder.
Thắng cố is cooked very simply. After killing a horse, the tenderloins and lean meat are separated out and sold. The bones, muscles, fat and leftovers, along with the internal organs are cut into small pieces and cooked with traditional spices, including salt and cardamom. All ingredients are stir-fried, then water is added and everything is stewed for several hours. During cooking, dirty scum is removed. Thắng cố has a very strong smell and unattractive color. This dish is served hot with peppermint and corn wine.
Thịt Chuột — Mice meat
Amongst Vietnam’s many strange dishes, mouse stands out as a horrible one. Field-mice, fat from feasting on rice on the field after the harvest, are chosen to cook this dish. Only these mice are always cooked into delicious dishes. The mouse season in the Red River Delta is in May and September whilst in the Mekong River Delta it is in October, during the flood season. After the harvest, local people go catching mice in the field. Grilled fat field-mouse is as delicious as roasted suckling pig. Although a mouse has little meat, the cook can make many delicious dishes. The adventurous should not miss this dish in the harvest season. However, not everyone can try mouse, especially those from the urban areas.
Trứng Vịt Lộn — Balut (Fertilized Duck Egg) or Fetal Duck Egg or Duck Hatching Eggs
Not placed on the list of “internal organs”, fertilized duck eggs are a nutritious dish enjoyed every morning and afternoon by many Vietnamese people. This is not an edible dish for most foreigners. According to Oriental medicine, this dish served with knotweed and fresh ginger can cure anemia, asthenic disease, headache and lack of sex drive. It is often served in the morning or afternoon. This dish can be found throughout Vietnam. Many people like it, while other people feel that this is a terrible dish. This dish is best served hot.
Tiết Canh — Blood Pudding
How will you feel when you see a bowl of red blood and a plate of internal organs? To many people, those dishes are their favorites. They are very delicious when being served with basil and shrimp paste. For foreigners, these dishes are really a challenge.
The last in the list of “horrible” dishes for foreigners in Vietnam involves insects. Insects are also popular in some countries of Southeast Asia such as Cambodia and Thailand. In Vietnam, insects such as locusts, spiders and scorpions can be fried or stir-fried.
Remarkably, live coconut bug larvae (Vietnamese coconut worm) can be served up on your plate. Coconut bug larvae live by absorbing nutrients from coconut trees. As the larvae fatten, the coconut trees dry out. In Tra Vinh, local people serve palm larvae, coconut larvae and ground larvae. To increase the flavor for this dish, they stuff peanuts in these larvae to create a very distinctive taste. Many people said that this dish can help to increase the male’s hormone levels.
In Can Tho, locals often eat live bug larvae. Fat larvae are put into a bowl of fish sauce with red chili. The larvae wiggle whilst soaking up the fish sauce. Those, who can eat the live bug larva, will feel this dish is nutty and very scrumptious. This dish is for brave diners; however, this is the best way to taste the bug larvae and is a memorable experience.
The local cuisine is a great strength of Vietnamese culture. Many delicious foods are remembered by foreigners such as noodles, spring rolls, vermicelli and grilled pork or crispy bread rolls. It is also worth noting the “horrible” dishes, which bring interesting sensations to diners. It’s really an unforgettable experience!
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