The creepiest Vietnamese food: Dare you to give it a try?
The distinct and unforgettable Vietnamese food is the heart of Vietnamese culture. Vietnamese cuisine has been one of the most popular cuisines in the word as its balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot flavors. If you just know about the Vietnamese cuisine via the old recipes and food that meets the whole world’s taste, you definitely have skipped one important part. We also have the weirdest food ever which is ready to challenge you the bravest!
Let’s start the meal with the exotic Vietnamese food for the appetizer
The blood pudding (Tiet canh) – The first challenge in the Vietnamese food journey
To start the journey of different culinary taste, may I introduce you the popular starter of the Vietnamese food, the blood pudding. There are varying types of blood like goose, crab, snake, lobster, but the most popular is pig and duck blood. It’s rare to eat dog or chicken blood pudding because these are either very bad smell or harmful when undercooked.
The process of making the blood pudding starts with getting the animal drain of its blood. Then they pour the fresh blood into a bowl, season it and allow it to set into jello texture. Once the blood has thickened, they add some organs, meat, fresh greens, peanuts on top, with a side of rice cracker.
Blood pudding is made from the fresh animal’s blood, mixed with a little fish sauce, chopped meat, cartilage, organs, tongue, throat, etc. To make it “less smell”, you can eat blood pudding with peanuts and herbs. Though vampires often drink blood at night, you can try this blood dish at any time of the day.
Coconut-beetle larva (Duong dua)
This is the specialty of Western Vietnam. This larva lives in and eats the coconut trees so it’s very clean to eat raw. The white and soft body of this worm makes many people cry when they first see it. However, the coconut-beetle larva is said to be so nutritious that people would eat raw to maintain nutrition.
When you order this Vietnamese food, the waiter will drop some alive larva into a bowl of fish sauce. The creepiest part is you will be able to witness the thumb-sized worms crawling in the bowl. Moreover, you need to use your own pair of chopsticks to pick it up then straight into your mouth. I’m pretty sure that feeling the larvae squirming inside your mouth and throat must be an interesting experience.
If you think it’s quite hard for the beginning, keep calm, the exploration has just get started!
Jumping-fish salad (Goi ca nhay) – the “freshest” Vietnamese food ever
Northwest Vietnam has a complex system of rivers and streams with a variety of fishes. Hence, one of the best way to enjoy the freshness of the fish is eating raw fish salad.
To make this Vietnamese food, the minority ethnic on the Northwest mountains need to catch the fishes at the streams which are away from the residential areas. Next, they will keep them alive buy dropping in a clean water pot. At the same time, they prepare the “seasoning” and the side dish greens. Since it’s on the mountain, you can find many rare vegetable and spices, especially Mac khen, also called Zanthoxylum rhetsa. It’s considered as the soul of Northwest cuisine because most of the dishes here include it. Mac khen has a strong aroma, much more fragrant than black pepper and gives you the feeling of “numbness” tongue. All ingredients must be chopped into small pieces with the flavor of sour and spicy.
Next, when everyone gets ready, the master one will pick the fish one by one from the pot, use a knife to cut its belly, squeeze the intestines out then quickly drop it into the spices mixing vegetable bowl. As the fish is still alive, the hardest part is trying your best to keep the jumping fish on the spoon and insert it into your mouth. You can choose to leave it shaking in your mouth for a while as the locals do, or chew immediately.
Jump in the main course with the weird Vietnamese food
A basic meal of the Vietnamese consists of rice and some side dish. If the plain white rice makes you think it would be an easy game, these weird Vietnamese food below will change your mind.
Tuna eyeball (Mat ca ngu dai duong) – healthy Vietnamese food for your main course
Phu Yen is a province in central Vietnam, surrounded by mountains and ocean, has popular Vietnamese food called Tuna eyeball. Tuna eyeball, which is thought to be useless, is a specialty of this place that travelers desire to try once. In the past, they threw tuna’s eyeballs away, but those eyes were so big that people decided to make them useful.
If you’re familiar with small fishes and their “friendly” eyeballs, you will be shocked when first see the tuna’s ones. The average weight of an ocean tuna is 40-50 kg, therefore, their eyeballs are as big as tennis balls. Having a giant eyeball staring at you on the dish is not in your nightmare!
Tuna eyeball is the main ingredient of some Vietnamese food, but the best way to enjoy it is stewing with Chinese herbs. The special aroma of the herbs will make the dish less fishy. Besides, this dish has a high level of nutrition of omega 3 and DHA good for eyes and brains. If you have eye problems, this one is a great cure.
Tadpole braised with bamboo shoots (Nong noc om mang)
If frog makes you goose bumped, the “baby version” of that dish may help you out. This is the signature dish of Thanh Hoa Province in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam. The main ingredient of this Vietnamese food, the thumb-sized tadpoles, are used only when people have special guests or in big events.
You may feel a bit disgusted when trying this Vietnamese food for the first time. But if you dare eat it, putting a little tadpole straight into your mouth, you will find the taste that you’ve never known before. It’s soft, sweet and a little bitter come from the bamboo shoots. Since it’s really hard to catch a large amount of tadpole, it becomes a specialty of Thanh Hoa Province.
This is a “creepy” Vietnamese food in Northwest Vietnam. In Vietnamese, Nam means soup, and Pia is the thick liquid in the small intestines of the herbivores. Actually, the locals call that liquid the “pre-poop”!
Since it’s from the Northwest, Mac khen is an indispensable spice. This will help remove the smell of the Pia. Furthermore, other intestines such as liver, stomach, lung, etc of the goats and cows are added into this frightening dish. In addition, the gallbladder is used to bring to this Vietnamese food a light bitter taste.
It doesn’t seem to be delicious food due to the bitter taste, the bad smell, and the “war” of different spices in your mouth. However, if you give it enough time, you will taste the sweet and fatty taste after all. There are some people refuse this dish at first, but when they give it a try, they become addicts.
If you have a chance to visit Vietnam and want to know more about the culinary here, don’t forget to taste the Vietnamese food above!