Amazing strange foods in Vietnam

Raw blood soup (Tiết canh)

Raw blood soup (tiết canh in Vietnamese) is a dish made with raw blood of ducks or geese (sometimes pigs), with peanuts and herbs on top, a traditional dish in Vietnamese cuisine. The most popular is tiết canh vịt, made from raw duck blood and duck meat. In rarer instances, tiết canh chó, made with dog blood and meat also exists, especially in the northern parts of Vietnam.

The freshly drawn blood is collected in a bowl, and prevented from premature coagulation (hãm huyết), by mixing it with some fish sauce of certain proportions, usually three to five soup spoons of fish sauce for one quart (approximately 1 liter) of blood. Finely chopped meat such as cooked duck innards (such as gizzards) and duck meat are put in a shallow dish along with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts and chopped herbs such as Vietnamesecoriander, mint, etc. The blood and fish sauce mixture is then diluted with some watery broth left from cooking the meat and/or gizzards to promote blood coagulation, then quickly poured into the prepared meat dish. After the blood has set, the finished dish resembles a pizza. The finished dish can be kept cooled in the refrigerator, which allows the blood to maintain its coagulated state, when immediate consumption is not called for right away. If the dish is removed from the refrigerator and left to sit at room temperature for a while the blood will return to a liquid state.

Raw blood soup  is the champion in the Top 10 Most Bizarre Soups in http://listverse.com :

“…We have a soup so bizarre it can hardly be called a soup at all. It is a traditional soup in Vietnamese cuisine made from simple ingredients, raw blood (usually duck), cooked gizzards, and topped with peanuts and herbs. The soup is refrigerated so the blood coagulates and can then be eaten chilled before the blood loses its jello like consistency. Supposedly, the soup gives both the person making and eating it strength. Its popularity has declined since the bird flu spread through Asia. Although many still eat it, there is concern for the public’s health in consuming raw blood from ducks. Did I really have to tell you that though?”

 Thắng cố

The horse meat, called thang co, is a traditional dish of the Mong ethnic group in the mountainous north-western region.

Thang co has been known for years as a speciality of the Mong culture. The technique of making it is quite simple. After the animal is killed and washed, its internal parts are removed, which are later cut up. These parts are put in a big pan and fried in their own grease. Minutes later, water is added to the pan and the meat is simmered for hours.

To spice up the dish, salt and some spicy fruits including thao qua and dia dien can be added, giving to the dish an attractive aroma.

Wine is always recommended for men when they eat thang co and women often eat it with com nam (rice balls) or men men (ground maize).

During the group meal of thang co, participants exchange stories about crops, hunting, villages and daughters-in-law. For young bachelors and bachelorettes, it can be a good opportunity to make new friends and even find a future husband or wife.

Visitors are always impressed by the big Thang Co pan and bean soup bowls at colorful market days of Bac Ha Town. It is really interesting to taste a bowl of Thang Co with big pieces of horse meat and drink wine made from corn to experience cuisine of the H’mong ethnic minority in these remote areas.

Market days are always crowded and people hardly can pass by Thang Co shops without tasting it. Thang Co in H’mong language means a big pot of water. In the past, Thang Co used to be cooked with horse meat. At present, Thang Co is cooked with other kinds of meat such as buffalo, pork and goat. Thang Co’s recipes in the past were a little different to the current one.

Like Thang Co, most of dishes of H’mong minority people are always simply made, and, though Thang Co has been one of the most special dishes of the H’mong culture, the preparing process is quite simple. After a horse is butchered and washed, its internal organs are removed. The horse meat is chopped into small pieces. Then, these pieces are mixed with special spices and put into a big pan. After being fried in it’s own fat, water is added and the meat is stewed for hours.

Thang co is always ready when people complete their trading. Sitting on low chairs, H’mong men usually enjoy Thang Co with liquor distilled from fermented corn, while their wives are waiting for them at a distance.

At the end of a market day, drunken men stumble or sleep on horse backs while their wives walk behind them. That is a custom of local residents and it is rare to see all of the family eating Thang Co together.

H’mong people go to market not only to buy goods, eat Thang Co and drink corn liquor but also to meet and talk with their friends and socialize, and this is an important element of their culture.

– From Lao Cai city, tourists can travel by coach 60 km north to Bac Ha District. The district’s old name was Pac Ha. This means “a hundred bundles of grass”; later on people called it as Bac Ha.

– Bac Ha fair, one of the biggest in Northern Vietnam takes place on Sundays. The fair is famous for agricultural products, farming tools and cattle. In spring time, visitors will have opportunities to see the most special cultural identities in the fair.

– Besides the fair, Bac Ha is also famous for its tourist sites such as Pho Hamlet with liquor distilled from fermented corn, Ta Van Chu Hamlet for brocades, Lung Phin buffalo market, Hoang A Tuong house which was built between 1919 to 1921.

Silkworm pupa ( nhộng)

A pupa is the life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. The pupal stage is found only in holometabolous insects, those that undergo a complete metamorphosis, going through four life stages; embryo, larva, pupa and imago.
Like many insect species, silkworm pupae are eaten in some cultures. This unusual food may go by the English phrase “ground cucumber.” In Korea, they are boiled and seasoned to make a popular snack food known as beondegi. In China, street vendors sell roasted silkworm pupae. In Vietnam, this is known as con nhong. Silkworms have also been proposed for cultivation by astronauts as space food on long-term missions.

  Balut (Trứng vịt lộn)

A balut (or Hột vịt lộn in Vietnamese) is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. They are considered delicacies of Asia and especially the Philippines, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. They are often served accompanied with consumption of beer.

Balut are most often eaten with a pinch of salt, though some balut-eaters prefer chili and vinegar to complement their egg. The eggs are savored for their balance of textures and flavors; the broth surrounding the embryo is sipped from the egg before the shell is peeled and the yolk and young chick inside can be eaten. All of the contents of the egg are consumed.

And these are some sharings:

“I was surprised how easy it was to find in the city of Hoi An. I didn’t have to ask anyone where it was sold. On a small table on the side of the road, there was a group of teenagers holding eggs enjoying their meals. I knew exactly what it was. It really didn’t taste all that bad. It tasted much like a normal hard boiled egg but it was a bit more crunchy sometimes yet soft.” Said Mr. Michael Tieso – a traveler who go around the world.

Another  traveler, Mr. Adam shared: “When I arrived in Vietnam, I made food a definite priority. Not that food hadn’t been in other countries (the Middle East, India and Thailand were also big food destinations for me), but it was just a big attraction for me. Vietnam has a bit of a reputation for eating…different…foods. And while I knew I’d want to eat dog meat while I was there, I was less certain about some of the other exotic foods. Snake? No thanks. Or so I thought. I ended up eating a few exotic things, but missed out on the snake blood/cobra heart. I’m okay with that. One of the biggest surprised for me was when I ate balut egg—a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in its shell. It’s a popular snack in Vietnam. You’d see food carts all over selling them. People just sit down quickly on a stool, dip a small spoon into the egg, chow down and go. After avoiding it for weeks, I sat down with my cousin Tifo and he showed me how to eat one properly. Check out the video below of my first balut experience! I’m really glad I tried it because it actually was incredibly tasty. It was a little hard to take that first bite, and then once more when I came across what was clearly the beginning stage of a duckling (thankfully without the feathers). But in the end it wasn’t so hard. And like I said…it was good!”

Fish sauce ( nước mắm)
Fish sauce is often made from anchovies, salt and water, and is often used in moderation because it is intensely flavoured. Anchovies and salt are arranged in wooden boxes to ferment and are slowly pressed, yielding the salty, fishy liquid. (The salt extracts the liquid via osmosis.) The variety from Vietnam is generally called nước mắm (well known by brand names including nước mắm Phú Quốc (Phu Quoc) and nước mắm Phan Thiết (Phan Thiet)). Nước chấm is a Vietnamese prepared fish sauce condiment dipping sauce that’s savory, lightly sweet and salty tasting, and can even be sour or spicy if lime and chilis are added. In Vietnam, there’s a popular food item called mắm, which is made the same way as fish sauce, except that both the fish and the liquid extract, not just the liquid, are kept, and mắm is fermented for a shorter period than fish sauce. Mắm is either eaten as is (uncooked), or cooked in soups or stir-fries.
Fish sauce has a long unwritten history for centuries in Vietnam. Many of the secrets of making of fish sauce are traditional family histories from parts of Vietnam in Phu Quoc and Phan Thiet, both are most notable for there quality. Although anyone who is Vietnamese knows how to produce fish sauce, the pungent odor of the fish, and the time given to produce it would not be easy to withstand year around in hot and cold weather. Phu Quoc’s known records of fish sauce only date back 200 years. Vietnam with over 2,140 miles of coastline excluding the islands the main staple comes from fishing and by products of fish.

Nuoc mam is a daily staple for every Vietnamese and sauce from Phu Quoc is prized above all others. Among marine fish, anchovies and related species of small schooling fish from two to five inches in length are commonly used, as they can be found in bountiful supply in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. Larger varieties of fish, such as mackerel and sardines, also make good fish sauce, but because they are relatively more expensive due to their value as a food fish, they are seldom used in the commercial production of fish sauce. To make their traditional sauce, islanders ferment anchovies for a year in large wooden vats in dark warehouses, a technique that is said to yield a rich, golden liquid with pungent flavor and degree far superior to rivals from the Vietnamese mainland, where fermentation periods are usually shorter, and other Southeast Asian nations.iiThough cities such as Phan Thiet are known as the cradle of fish sauce and boast many reputable producers, Phu Quoc is widely known as the fish sauce capital. The main reason is that the island’s surrounding waters have an abundance of anchovies, the fish of choice for nuoc mam, close to the shore.