Top Weirdest Dishes in Asia You May Want to Know
It’s time to take a trip around the world and delve into the top weirdest dishes in Asia.
Birds Nest Soup
Starting off pretty weird, it’s bird’s nest soup in China! Yes that’s right, a popular delicacy in various parts of China, the nest of a swiftlet is used to cook a brothy soup with endless purported health benefits. It is said that bird’s nest soup helps to tackle alzheimer’s, repair skin, increase immunity, reduce fatigue, restore damaged cells and many more!
However, bird’s nest soup is known for being a pretty expensive delicacy due to the cost of purchasing the nest itself. This is likely due to the demand and lack of supply since obtaining the nest is quite dangerous and there are many ethical considerations with over supplying them.
|Century Egg. Photo: Devour|
Century egg (or hundred-year egg) is a black preserved egg of a duck, chicken or quail. Of course, century egg got its name from the art of preserving the egg for hundreds of years before eating, but more commonly they are just a few months old.
Still, a very old egg doesn’t sound too delicious to me! The egg turns black with a dark green yolk after being processed in clay, ash and quicklime.
Fried spiders are a popular snack throughout Cambodia, but especially in the town of Skuon that’s been called ‘Spider Village’ due to its widespread availability. Residents of Skuon have long used the spiders in traditional medicine. The spiders that are sold are a species of tarantula—known locally as ‘a-ping’—each roughly the size of a human palm. They are deep-fried and enjoyed as a crunchy and savoury snack throughout the day by both locals and tourists. Even celebrity chef, Andrew Zimmern has professed his love of fried spiders, comparing them to soft-shell crabs for their sweet and nutty texture.
|Photo: I Tour Vietnam|
Balut is a fertilised duck egg that’s most commonly known as a Filipino delicacy though several Southeast Asian countries are known to have (and enjoy) this food as well. To enjoy this delicacy, just peel the top part of the hard-boiled egg and sip the warm broth surrounding the partially-formed embryo before digging into the meaty contents of the egg—the embryo, egg yolk and albumin—preferably with a dash of salt, vinegar or soy sauce. Balut is well-known to be high in protein, but claims that it makes for an excellent aphrodisiac should also be taken with a pinch of salt.
The ‘King of Fruits’ needs no elaborate introduction. If you’ve passed through parts of Southeast Asia where durian is a sought-after delicacy, you’re probably smelled it or noticed signs in airports and shopping malls banning durian. It’s basically the marmite of fruits—you’ll either love it or hate it. If you got past the smell and tried durian, you would have experienced the explosion of flavours sparked by the durian’s soft creamy flesh as it lands on your tongue. And yes, you probably wanted more of what you tasted. Bear in mind that there are a wide variety of durians to choose, some more sweet or bitter, and some more wet or dry. So choosing the right durian for yourself is only part of the battle.
Grasshoppers and silk worms
Found commonly in markets, street corners and pushcarts in huge piles, Thailand’s fried insects have never failed to captivate the wide-eyed tourist. There’s always a variety of fried insects available but the most popular ones are grasshoppers, crickets and silk worms. Some of the more exotic insects you’ll find include scorpions and termites. All are deep fried and eaten with a sprinkling of soy sauce, salt or vinegar (not unlike balut) and most can lay claim to tasting slightly similar to crispy chicken. They are also rich in protein and other vitamins and can be a great alternative to other snacks like chips or popcorn.
Crickets and ants
Crickets (known locally as “payit”) and ants are prized delicacies in Myanmar, valued for both their taste and nutritional value. The locals love them and if you’re wandering around Yangon’s Chinatown, you’d find the odd tourist or two getting in on the act as well—a trend that’s been growing over the past few years. Locals are particularly fond of the crickets—large and fresh during the winter season from November to January—which is deep-fried and taste quite similar to shrimp. There are also plenty of ants to choose from, the more popular ones being “palu” (a type of winged ant) and “kar chin” which are seasonal. And yes, these are also deep-fried to crispy perfection.
Raw duck blood
Europeans with a fondness for blood sausages may want to try ‘tiết canh’, a traditional Vietnamese dish made with the raw blood of certain animals such as ducks, geese and sometimes pigs. The most popular one is ‘tiết canh vit’ that’s made from raw duck blood. It’s also easy to make: blood from a freshly-culled duck is drained into a bowl and mixed with fish sauce to prevent premature coagulation. It’s then mixed with cooked duck innards, peanuts and herbs before being served. The dish can also be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours before consumption. There’s also a similar dish in Laos called ‘lued phed’ (duck blood salad) where the duck innards are cooked and left to cool before being mixed with the duck blood and topped off with a variety of herbs—including coriander, mint leaves and Vietnamese mint leaves—and lime juice.
Tuna, particularly the canned varieties you found in the supermarkets, is a common dish served with bread or crackers. But we are talking about tuna eyes here, which is a whole different level altogether. Tuna eyes are available in Japan, where they can be eaten raw (gulp!) or steamed. But looking at those eyes alone can make you feel queasy before you even think about eating them.
There’s Batman, and there’s bat soup. The latter is exactly what it means: a soup literally brewed using live bats. This weird delicacy is particularly popular in Cambodia. Apart from bats, some of the other ingredients used for the bat soup includes chopped onion, salt and pepper.
San-nakji (Live Octopus)
San-nakji is a famous Korean dish widely known across the world. But despite its popularity, it takes a real gut to consume this live octopus. This dish is usually prepared by cutting a young live octopus into small pieces and served immediately using chopsticks. San-nakji is definitely not for the squeamish, especially you have to endure its slimy and chewy texture when you put it in your mouth.
Believe it or not, starfish is consumed as a street snack in China. And it’s quite famous as well. The starfish is deep-fried and served on a stick. To eat them, you have to crack open the hard outer shell and consume the soft flesh inside.
Beondaegi (Silkworm pupae)
Often served with alcohol, beondaegi is essentially steamed or boiled silkworm pupae served in a cup, together with all the juice that is a result of the steaming. The snack can often be bought from street vendors, as well as in watering holes and restaurants. It is so popular that they are also sold in canned form in convenience stores and Korean markets outside of Korea.
It doesn’t taste disgusting or unusual, but the idea of having an insect in my mouth is reason enough for me to put it on this list.
|Asia is no stranger to a variety of local foods, snacks and desserts. But we are not talking about common delicacies like tom yum, sushi and durian. Instead, KnowInsider will cover some of the weirdest and bizarre foods in Asia. If you like the list, please share it with your friends and follow KnowInsider for more interesting news.|
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