Asia boasts some of the most incredible dishes known to man. In a continent which is as culturally diverse as this eastern wonder, it’s hardly a surprise you’ll be able to find enough variance to keep even the fussiest of diners happy. However, not every dish is going to appeal to the masses.
Today, let’s take a look through five of the oddest meals you’re likely to try when you’re there. From the intriguingly bizarre, to the downright disgusting, here are five dishes you should try at your own risk.
- Cambodian Tarantulas
These creepy crawlies are without question one of the most challenging and disgusting foods you’re ever likely to have to try and consume. I’m not sure which Cambodian first picked up a fully-grown tarantula and decided it’d be a good idea to chomp down on it. Quite frankly, I don’t want to know.
The arachnids are skewered, fried and then munched on. It’s said they are gooey on the inside – which doesn’t exactly sell it for me. Each to their own; but this certainly isn’t something which will ever take off in the western world.
- Mongolian Boodog
Worryingly, this is probably the most “normal” dish on the list. This recipe sees a marmot or goat hung upside down (when dead), before the skin is cut around the next and peeled back – allowing room for two peeled onions, some salt and a heap of smooth, heated rocks to be thrust inside.
The meat is then cooked from the inside, while a blowtorch is used to sear away all the fur on the outside of the carcass. This grizzly process also requires the skin to be sliced, lest the resulting build-up of heat and natural gases cause an explosion. Roast goat, the hard way.
This dish is a not-so-welcome return to the more gruesome and inconceivable gastronomic offerings. Balut sees a partially formed duck foetusallowed to ferment while still inside an egg. Yes, it really is as simple as that. Understandably, in the modern world we live in, this has raised a few questions over animal rights and whether serving the dish is at all ethical.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to Balut being banned in most places outside of Asia – so you’re going to have to travel there if you want to taste the genuine article for yourself. It’s said the trick is to suck out the moisture from the shell first and then eat the foetus itself. The most revolting part is that it’s usually buried underground for up to a hundred years.
- Chinese Bird Nest Soup
This would be weird enough if it was made from the regular twigs or branches you’d find accompanying any nest – but factor in the actual substance these homes are made from, and it becomes all the more bizarre.
Swiftlets (the creatures responsible for their creation) effectively spit into a round pattern, which solidifies over a short period of time to form the foundations of the nest. This is then heated up and melts down into a viscous goo, which is consumed as a soup.
- Drunken Shrimp
This is arguably one of the most harrowing dishes imaginable – but, sadly, probably the most outright tasty-sounding on the list. Small shrimp are dropped in a bowl of alcoholic brine, where they proceed to swim about as they get a little bit merry.
Sadly, the party doesn’t last. The diner plunges into the bowl and chomps down on the live, intoxicated shrimp before they have time to realise what’s going on. Again, this practice is a little bit barbaric and is frowned upon in most of the western world.
Have any of these bizarre Asian dishes caught your attention? If you’ve got the guts, why not try one for yourself in the future? You won’t regret it (probably).