As a traveler and adventurer, you don’t visit a country just for the sites and sceneries but to experience the culture. And what better way to know more about the culture than by trying the local food.
Vietnamese food is anything but ordinary. In Vietnam, eating out is not about having a quick meal; it is a whole experience to enjoy food and drinks with your friends and family. It is to celebrate and not stop until you can’t eat or drink anymore. The best place to experience this is not in your high-end restaurants but on the streetside food stalls.
DISCLAIMER!! Before we begin, I just want to say that this blog is not for the faint-hearted. Just know that I have warned you already.
You know what, let's make this a challenge. If you make it to the end of this blog, you will have to try one of these dishes on your next adventure to Vietnam.
Tiết Canh or Raw Blood Pudding
Many people in the West know of the blood pudding or blood sausage. But have you ever heard of Uncooked Blood Pudding? Yep, you heard it right, Uncooked Blood Pudding. It is made by collecting freshly drawn blood from animals like ducks, pigs, and even goats. This dish is served with animal blood, cooked meat, peanuts for some crunch, fish sauce, and some herbs like Vietnamese coriander or mint to add that freshness. Are you up for this challenge?
SRăng Mực or Squid Teeth
I don't know why this dish is called Squid teeth. I’m sure squids have a beak and no teeth; regardless, I think you must give this dish a try. It really doesn’t look as bad as it sounds and is one of the most appetizing dishes on this list. In fact, there are many ways that you can have this dish. For instance, you can have it grilled, fried, and stir-fried with many different things. This dish is quite famous, and you can find this dish in the coastal region of Phan Thiet city. While eating, you might find a beak here and there, but it's no big deal; you can just spit it out.
Ếch Chiên Bơ or Fried Frog Legs In Butter
In some parts of Vietnam, you cannot go out drinking at night and not have fried frog legs to accompany your beer. They say frog legs taste like chicken wings or even fish which you will only find out if you try it out. Fried or braised frog legs pair well with late-night drinks. However, there are other ways to prepare frog legs, for example, making a curry, braising them, making a soup, and even using them in a hotpot.
Gà Đông Tảo or Dragon Chicken Feet
You don't have to be into feet to like these feet. HAHA, I know, a bad joke! However, eating chicken feet is relatively common in many parts of the world, especially in Asian countries. But these are some dragon-sized chicken feet, which is literally the name of this dish. These chicken feet are cooked in a pressure cooker with 11 different types of herbs.
This chicken gets its name from a village called Đông Tảo near Hanoi. Once, these chickens were bred for the royal families only, but now it is a delicacy for many Vietnamese. However, you pay a hefty price for these chicken feet, as one chicken can sell for up to USD 100. The reason for such a high price is that they are really difficult to breed.
Trứng Vịt Lộn or Balut
I know this dish looks slightly intimidating, but that's not the case for the locals in Vietnam. Balut, or fertilized egg, is notably famous in the Philippines and an exotic delicacy in Vietnam. Usually, the duck egg is fertilized, incubated for approximately 14 to 21 days, and then steamed. After that, you can eat the contents right out of the shell. Long-incubated balut has a well-developed embryo, and you can recognize the duckling's characteristics.
In Vietnam, some vendors sell hotpots and add balut to the hotpot. It is said to be a very nutritious meal. You can also have it as it is with salt and pepper like a regular egg or with some Vietnamese coriander. Once you get past the look and texture of this egg, you might enjoy it because it doesn't taste very different from a chicken. If that doesn't help, it is said to be an aphrodisiac…
Đuông Dừa or Coconut Worms
Putting a live crawling worm inside your mouth is not for the faint-hearted. Coconut worms are another one of the delicacies found in Vietnam’s Trà Vinh Province. To eat one of these coconut worms is genuinely a challenge. As the name suggests, these pests lay eggs inside the coconut tree’s trunk, and when the eggs hatch into larvae, they are harvested.
There isn't much to preparing these larvae; it's first dipped in alcohol to decontaminate and clean. Then they are immersed in fish sauce and eaten straight. There are other ways to prepare them, like frying and grilling them. They say that these worms have the texture of cheese or egg yolk.
Chuột Dồng Nướng or Super Bamboo Rats
These are not your typical rats found in the sewers. Instead, these are giant rats, bought for 25 dollars each and raised for 8 months. These rats are either pressure cooked with ginger, lemongrass, Vietnamese curry leaves, turmeric, and coconut water or cooked with bamboo shoots, fish sauce, MSG, turmeric powder, and even stir-fry and eaten with shrimp paste and herbs. Rat blood pudding is also made with fish sauce and MSG. If giant rats are not for you, you can always try the small ones.
Chả Rươi or Sand Worm Pancake
If you thought this blog couldn't get any weirder, then you were wrong. Another item you might have never heard of before; is Sand Worm Pancake. These are seasonal pancakes made like any other pancakes, with the batter. And you might be thinking, hmm, where do the worms come in then. Well, they are in the pancake batter, alive. The good thing is that the worms are cooked through by the time you will be eating them.
Bọ Biển or Gigantic Isopods:
There is some really weird-looking seafood out there, but this one will keep you awake at night. This enormous isopod is truly exotic and something you've never seen before. Isopods are the scavengers of the ocean, eating whatever food falls down on the bottom of the ocean floor. In other words, they are the cockroaches of the ocean world.
These giant isopods are steamed for 20 minutes to cook them through. They can be either deep-fried, stir-fried, or grilled. If you only like to eat pretty-looking food, this scary sea creature is not for you. But if you look past the appearance, they are not very different from other kinds of seafood.
Ba Ba Hấp Gừng or Steamed Soft-shell Turtle with Ginger
Last but not least, here we have the steamed soft-shelled turtle. We already talked about many weird foods, so this shouldn't be as surprising. This dish is a traditional Vietnamese cuisine, and it is prepared fresh at the restaurant. Typically they would bring the turtle to your table and, for lack of a better word, kill it to ensure its freshness. It is also traditional to drink turtle blood with vodka.
If you are too scared to eat it, the vodka will definitely take the edge off you. The dish is prepared by pressure cooking or boiling the turtle with herbs and spices to eliminate any strong smell. It can then be prepared by frying, stir-frying, or in a hotpot.
Congratulations on making it to the end!!!
Well, I see you made it to the end, and it wasn’t so terrible, was it? I think not. So do not forget to try these delicacies on your trip to Vietnam. This is a challenge, so do not be afraid to give that weird-looking dish sold in some deep alleyway a try. I know you won't back off because you are a true adventurer!