Vietnamese food is known for its variety of ingredients, some of which are so diverse that they sound pretty unusual to foreigners.
Fertilized egg embryo, raw blood pudding, and ragworm fritters, are some of the dishes that may scare off foreign tourists the first time they hear these names. However, once they give it a try, they’ll quickly realize why these foods are favorites among the Vietnamese.
These dishes are “scary at first glance, but you must try them when coming to Vietnam,” said South African food and travel writer Nikhita Rathod on Atlys.
Hot vit lon, a fertilized egg embryo that is boiled or steamed, is also a popular dish in the Philippines where it is called balut.
‘The duck eggs are collected while they are still being hatched. To prepare it, the cook will bring eggs to a boil. Another way to eat balut is to put them in the hot pot, which will enhance the rich and sweet flavors of the broth, as well as provide extra nutrition. Balut is eaten with salt, pepper, and coriander. Once you try it, you might like it,” Rathod said.
Boiled balut (L) and balut with tamarine sauce are served at an eatery in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Lam
The next item on her list is frog legs stir-fried in garlic butter. “You cannot go out for a drink without having a plate of garlic butter stir-fried frog legs,” said Rathod. “The local residents say that frog legs taste just like chicken, or fish. You can only find out about this when you try it.”
Rathod also thinks this dish tastes best when you’re drinking beer. She suggests travelers try out other frog dishes such as curry frog, braised frog, frog soup, and frog hotpot.
Not everyone has the courage to try duong dua, also known as coconut worm. Photo by VnExpress
Speaking of duong dua, coconut worm, the South African writer said: “Putting a wriggling coconut worm in your mouth is really not for everyone. But this is a delicious specialty of Tra Vinh Province (in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta).”
The writer then goes on to recommend tiet canh, a pudding made from raw animal blood, which is served with coriander, and mint leaves. Another item on Rathod’s list is cha ruoi, ragworm fritters. She explains that “ragworms are mixed with eggs and meat before being deep-fried.”
Cha ruoi is a beloved Hanoi specialty. Photo by VnExpress
In addition to providing a list of strange Vietnamese dishes, Rathod also made some comments about the local eating habits. “In Vietnam, you don’t rush to finish your meal. Eating is truly an experience,” she said. “The people eat and drink while enjoying conversations with their friends.”
Rathod discovered that meals with local friends are like parties, and they won’t stop until they’re drunk. The best place to experience this is at street vendors rather than in restaurants, she said.
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