Vietnam’s Strangest, Tastiest Food

Mar 19, 2019 | Taste, Vietnam

Balut – Fertilized Duck Egg

Vietnam is definitely the land of smiles – until you encounter some of its more unusual choices for dinner

They say that in order to fully comprehend the immaterial aspects of a foreign culture, you need to eat what the locals eat.

And for Westerners who have been brought up on steak, fried chicken, potatoes and pies, nothing could be more disconcerting (or sometimes frightening) than to ‘meet’ proteins and carbohydrate sources that are simply not used in one’s home country. Welcome to Vietnam. Now have some balut.

Balut has garnered the most reputation for shocking tourists than any other food in Southeast Asia. Balut has partially developed duck fetus, swimming in its own amniotic fluid. That’s basically it.

You boil it up and eat it whole – sometimes with little duck feet and bill intact. Balut is a mythical food in Vietnam because it’s so tasty, but also because the laksa herbs used are said to help with digestion. There is also balut in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Tiet Canh is a type of pudding made from fresh animal blood. Seasonings are mixed with the blood, as well as chopped meat and innards.

The fresh blood will eventually coagulate, and the resulting mix is salty, game-y, and surprisingly well-balanced despite the fact that it uses uncooked animal blood. Lemon slices and sprigs of mint can also be added to make the dish better-tasting. 

Sa Sung are actual worms that burrow deep into the ground, where they are eventually harvested. Sa Sung is grilled and served like fish or meat, with lots of seasonings, like chilies and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Vietnamese cuisine is pretty wild with its choice of ingredients, and worms are definitely on the menu.

Coconut beetle larvas are the larvae of the adult coconut beetle. They’re fat and squirmy, and they will squish liquid into your mouth when you bite into them.

Often dipped into fish sauce and other sauces for taste, coconut beetle larva is also eaten in other parts of Asia, like the Philippines. These larvas are considered pests so don’t feel bad about eating them.