Few nations in the world have as many different food ingredients and cooking techniques as Vietnam. Some of the foods, however, sound horrifying and would be dangerous for any tourists to try. How many of Vietnam’s strange foods have you tried, then?
1. “Trứng cút lộn” – Quail balut
Eating a half formed duck may sound weird, but in many countries, including Vietnam, this meal is prized. Quail balut is a favorite beer dish, appetizer, and snack. The interior contains a partially formed duck fetus and is significantly tougher than a typical boiled egg. Feathers may be visible, but they disappear in the mouth.
After being boiled for around 25 minutes, the quail balut is consumed while it is still warm. Juices are slurped when the top is cracked, and the insides are subsequently consumed with a spoon. Lemon and black pepper, fresh herbs, pickled vegetables, raw garlic, and green chilies are all common condiments.
This strange Vietnamese dish’s yolk is characterized as being thick and creamy with a mild flavor.
2. “Tiết canh” – Blood soup
In Vietnam, tiet soup is a well-known appetizer. There are many different forms of blood, but pig blood and duck blood are the most prevalent.
The blood pudding (Tiet Canh)
The gathering of animal blood is the first step in the creation of blood pudding. They then combine fresh blood with offal, chopped beef, and seasoning in a bowl, allow it to set into a jelly-like consistency, and serve. The eater will sprinkle some herbs and roasted peanuts on top of the frozen blood.
Rarely is this dish served anywhere else in the globe. The blood pudding is undoubtedly among the world’s scariest foods due to its peculiar preparation method and horrific appearance.
3. “Thịt chó” – Dog meat
Vietnamese people enjoy eating meals with dog meat. They provide foods like grilled dog meat, dog sausage, and boiled dog flesh, to name a few. Many tourists, especially those who keep dogs as devoted pets at home, find this frightening food in Vietnam. “What is meat to one man is poison to another.” The aforementioned foods may seem spooky and unsettling to strangers, but they are considered delicacies in the area.
The indispensable spices in the meat dishes are galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, chili, and especially, Skunkvine and shrimp paste are the most important part because they are the soul of the dish.
4. “Mèn mén” – Steamed cornmeal
Several tourists have been impressed by the Northwest’s Mong people’s traditional food, both for its taste and for its cultural significance. Even though “mèn mén” is a cheap treat, once you try it, it will be difficult to forget.
The dish is produced from ordinary cornmeal that has been combined with water and then cooked. Although the ingredients are straightforward, preparing a good and convenient bowl of “mèn mén” requires a skilled cook in the family and takes a lot of time. The meal is frequently consumed in Mong families as the main course together with rice. Several generations of Mong people have a strong memory of the smoothness of rice mixed with the sweet, meaty, aromatic taste of maize. They also eat this meal with Pho or noodles at the district market.
Although Mong people could now enjoy more delectable meals thanks to improved living conditions, “mèn mén” still holds special significance for them. On Tet holiday, “mèn mén” is a common ingredient on the food plates of Mong people as a means to recall the challenging times.
5. “Thắng cố” – Horse stew
Thang co is a traditional dish of the Mong people, originating from China and then introduced to Vietnam. The way to cook this food is very simple: stew the bones, meal and all edible parts of the horse together. The spices in this sauce are made from 12 different flavors such as cardamom, pepper, cinnamon,.. to create the “concentration” of the Northwest mountains.
“Thắng cố” is usually made only on important occasions like festivals or feast for special guests. A delicious “thắng cố” pan requires the cook to be very attentive to the fire, season with proper spices and cook for hours. Therefore, “thắng cố” is usually made only on important occasions such as festivals, swearing-in ceremonies to protect the forest, village festivals, or fairs. Along with “mèn mén”, let’s add “thắng cố” to your must-try dishes list when visiting Ha Giang province.
6. “Nậm pịa” – Young manure soup
Tourists find this dish to be rather frightful in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Nam Pia is a viscous liquid found in a herbivore’s small intestine.
Because it originates from the Northwest, “macadamia” (mắc khén) is an indispensable spice. This spice will help eliminate the odor of the pịa. In addition, other types of intestines such as liver, stomach, lungs … of goats, cows are also added to this dish. In addition, the gallbladder used will give this dish a slight bitterness.
Although for many people, this dish is somewhat unappealing, for Thai people, “nậm pịa” has an irresistible taste. This food is not always available, locals are usually only made during festivals, banquets, or used to invite special guests.
7. “Thịt chuột đồng” – Grilled field mice
Because rats frequently inhabit moist environments like sewers, the dish may frighten a lot of people when they hear or see it. Rats used for processing are actually edible. It is more nutrient-dense than meat from pigs, cows, and chickens.
Presently, only field mice are consumed by humans, and these rodents often eat natural foods like rice, cassava, corn, crabs, and snails. Because of this, rice-growing areas such the Mekong Delta, Hai Duong, Bac Ninh, and Bac Giang are where field mice are most common. In addition to being grilled, field mice are also popularly boiled (and squeezed with lemon leaves), pan-fried, roasted with salt, grilled, fried, etc.
8. “Sá sùng” – Peanut worm
Peanut worms are among the spookiest foods in Vietnam. It has a similar appearance to other worms, but it is much larger and has a sand-dominated interior. Most often, they occupy large underground caverns.
These worms can be eaten in Vietnam. They can either be salted with chili peppers before grilling and then seasoned with lime juice and chili salt. This meal is frequently used as a snack in restaurants and occasionally beer is also offered with it. Sa Sung has a unique, mouthwatering flavor and is crunchy, soft but somewhat chewy.
Even if this dish is described as exquisite, it is nevertheless difficult for any tourists to try it.
9. “Thịt rắn” – Snake meat
Vietnam boasts a great variety of reptiles, notably snakes, due to its tropical climate. However, only the Chinese cobra, Banded krait, and Chinese snake are snakes consumed in Vietnam.
Many Westerners find it rather terrifying to imagine the chief slaying the snake with a knife. Additionally, the wine’s flavor and the snake’s blood stench put off many foreigners who would otherwise be interested in trying this dish.
10. “Chả rươi” – Ragworm fritters
When visitors see the ingredients for these delectable and oily ragworm fritters, they are often taken aback. They are a gift from the fall of North Vietnam.
Ragworms are members of the polychaete family and are found in the Northeastern and North Central areas, particularly in the districts of Kinh Mon and Tu Ky in the province of Hai Duong. Many individuals are afraid to try ragworm meals because of their zigzag shape and eerie color. Contrary to its outward look, it is transformed into a delectable pancake that everyone wants to try after being pureed, combined with minced meat, herbs, a few pieces of tangerine peel, and eggs.
11. “Mắm tôm” – Shrimp paste
One of the national dishes of Vietnam, particularly the North, is shrimp paste. Despite various changes through thousands of years of culture, shrimp paste has consistently maintained a tiny space in the kitchen of every Vietnamese family.
This condiment has a terrible fragrance, which makes it seem very weird to many foreign visitors and even some locals. Nonetheless, this paste has a distinctive smell for the other half. Some even develop an insatiable yearning for shrimp paste, and a long list of recipes that use this fermented paste would flash through their brains. Above all, the paste’s distinct flavor continues to be regarded as the “national soul of the nation.”
As a flavoring for soups, stews, stir-fries, or as a dipping sauce, shrimp paste is utilized. The soul, in particular, is what makes “Bún đậu mắm tôm” — the emblematic dish of Hanoi cuisine — so alluring. Shrimp paste will be seasoned with a little sugar, a few pieces of chile, lemon, and a little hot oil when served with “Bún đậu”. “Bún đậu mắm tôm” can be sipped once they have all been combined and are foamy.
12. “Thịt ba ba” – Softshell turtle meat
The list of the strangest Vietnamese foods now includes one more dish made from reptiles. Softshell turtles can be used to make a variety of delectable and healthy recipes. This dish has a lot of healthy elements. In addition, it is soft and delicious, so once you try it, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.
Grilling softshell turtles is the simplest method of preparing them. To maintain its suppleness and flavor, the meat of the tortoise is roasted over charcoal after being marinated with spices. The braised meal with banana and tofu is the other well-known turtle dish. The softness and nuttiness of the green banana and tofu, as well as the perfume of fried garlic and green onions, are all immediately noticeable to the diner when eating this dish.
Some elegant softshell turtle meals that are frequently served in restaurants are the delectable roasted with salt, steamed with lotus leaves, and grilled with lily leaves.
13. “Nòng nọc” – Tadpoles
This meal is typical of the K’ho people, a Central Highlands ethnic group. The K’Ho people remove the guts from tadpoles that are the size of an index finger (collected in streams) using a razor before washing them in salted water. Tiny tadpoles (collected in the field) merely require a saltwater bath before being washed under running water. They cook their favorite dishes after letting the water drain.
The K’Ho people prepare simple tadpoles into braised meals, stir-fries, soups, etc. since they are food in the daily rice tray. Tadpole soup is the most well-liked meal among them. Tadpoles, shallot leaves or onion, chili, monosodium glutamate, and a few other common spices are the only complex spices used in the soup.
Tadpole soup is a specialty of the K’Ho people despite the dish’s simplicity of preparation and the limited availability of the tadpoles that are caught. The dish also has numerous cultural connotations. When people were still living in poverty in the past, they would frequently catch tadpoles in the fields or streams and prepare them for daily meals. Even when times have improved, many K’ho people continue to go tadpole hunting because, to them, it is more than just a means of subsistence—it is a way of life.
14. “Đuông dừa” – Coconut worms
This is a West Vietnam specialty. These larvae are extremely clean and nutrient-rich since they inhabit and consume the trunks of coconut palms. Many people are terrified when they first encounter the coconut worm because of its velvety, white body.
Live coconut worms are added to a bowl of fish sauce before eating this dish. The sight of the thumb-sized worms crawling in the dish is the most terrifying part. It must be interesting to feel like one has fat, wriggling coconut weevils in one’s mouth and throat.
15. “Dế chiên” – Fried crickets
Vietnamese people enjoy eating white crickets that have been deep-fried, accompanied with beer or wine in family meetings.
The flavor of the cricket is comparable to that of shrimp and crab. Additionally, it is thought that white crickets can treat rheumatism, obesity, and discomfort. The legs of the white cricket are white and much more delectable than those of other kinds. Along with chopped pork and lemon leaves, this meal is also presented.
Having fantastic cuisine at each stop is wonderful, but the highlight of your trip will be trying unique dishes that might be considered “weird.” The aforementioned 15 unusual cuisines in Vietnam should serve as inspiration for some of your upcoming fun travels.