As a distinct Asian culture in the East, Vietnamese cuisine is constantly regarded as unique and has been slowly making its way around the world. Though some of the local foods could be seen as insanely food challenges that most if not all foreigners go “eek”.
1. Fetal Duck Egg (Balut)
In Vietnam, fetal duck egg (dictionary word as “Balut”, locally known as “Trứng Vịt Lộn”) is a favorite nutritious street food which is said to be beneficial to health. The snack food is so well-loved by the locals that almost all Vietnamese people (96 million) would have eaten it at least once.
In contrary to Vietnamese people, when seeing these baby duck eggs, probably most if not all foreigners may feel “disgusting” to eat as a food.
2. Shrimp Paste (a.k.a Prawn Sauce)
Vietnamese people have a lovely name for this local condiment – Mam Tom (Shrimp Paste). This kind of thickened paste is made from crushed shrimp and salt with fermentation process to create its own strong smell and taste. It is also available in a more liquefied form which is more appropriately called as the sauce.
With Mam Tom, Vietnamese people use it as a condiment for a variety of local dishes, such as “Bun Dau Mam Tom”, “Jellyfish Salad”, “Fried Tofu”, and so on.
As seen in several reviews by foreign tourists who had been to Vietnam to try out the local cuisine, it is evident that most could not withstand the pungent smell of Mam Tom, less trying out the paste themselves.
3. Silkworm Pupae
Silkworm pupae is silkworm in its preparation phase from turning into butterflies to lay eggs, while the worm itself is instrumental to make natural silk by Vietnamese. The worms are normally fed by the breeders with mulberry leaves.
Apart from its functional use, silkworm pupae has also found its way in the local markets where it is sold as food. Later on, it is washed, dried, and then mixed with salt, before frying with oil and fish sauce. Lemon leaves and bamboo shoots are then finely cut into small strips and mixed together to bring out the final taste to the dish.
To most foreigners, no doubt they will be wide-eyed as eating worms is definitely not common in their food diet, which leads to … Yes, put this dish to that list of insanely food challenges too!
4. Animal Viscera
You did not read wrongly. For most countries, people normally only eat meat or certain meaty parts of the animals that are raised in captivity for consumption.
In Vietnam, animal viscera from pig, beef, chicken, duck or even from dog are commonly found on the dining table as local delicacies.
As part of their food tradition, Vietnamese people cook animal viscera in many different methods along with a variety of vegetables and add-ons. The animal viscera are more commonly eaten in northern Vietnam than other regions of the country.
On the other hand, the diet of younger Vietnamese generations is changing as it is noted that they are generally not as enthusiastic on eating animal viscera as much as the older generations.