What (not) to eat – Vietnamese food for daredevils Part 1


Vietnamese culinary is among the world’s finest. Its diversity and complexity can guarantee utmost satisfaction for any traveler (Surprise, surprise! We have much more to offer than Pho). Yet again, this episode, like its predecessor, is not for just any traveler. The dishes listed here are so terrifically terrifying that they are the ultimate tests for your stomach. However, as unappetizing as they may sound, with the right seasoning and cookery, these dishes can send your taste buds to heaven. Do you have the guts to try?

*Author’s note: Shout-out to Billy Wood. Your insight into Vietnamese food as a professional chef has inspired this article.*

  1. Organs

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Of pigs, cows, snakes, you name it. We have brought “not wasting food” to a whole new level. Organs’ texture varies greatly from pasty, crunchy, or chewy to you-can-feel-it-beat-down-your-throat-as-you-swallow-y. Don’t believe me? Check out the youtube video** at the end of the article and see for yourself.

We eat a lot of food that is deemed weird to say the least. Sometimes the reason simply is because we believe it provides certain health benefits. For example, why take Viagras when you can eat a bull penis? Having said that, in everyday food, animal organs are featured in a relatively less “hardcore” manner. In the North, “cháo lòng” – rice porridge cooked with pork innards (photo below) – is a popular breakfast dish, while the Southern equivalent would be “bánh hỏi lòng heo.”

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  1. Duck embryo eggs (trứng vịt lộn)

Again, a popular breakfast dish. And again, supposedly very nutritious. This dish is not exclusively found in Vietnam. Some fellow Southeast Asian countries enjoy it, too. However, only Vietnamese eat these eggs for breakfast (please correct me if I’m wrong).

VN nottoeat intext 3After boiling the eggs, we break the shell and put the contents in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of vinegar, some shredded ginger, and rau răm(Vietnamese coriander).Unlike in the Philippines where the eggs are eaten at about 17 days old (citing from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balut_%28food%29), in Vietnam, we prefer leaving them a few days longer. As a result, you can feel the duck bones crushing with your every bite or even see the formed baby ducks themselves upon cracking the eggs open!!! Understand why we eat them for breakfast now? That feel and that sight can wake you up faster than any strong coffee.

Alternatively to ducks, we eat quail embryos. You don’t feel the bones or see the birds with these tiny eggs, and the ways they are served are also different, one of which is as a side dish to steamed snails because the two dishes share the same delicious sauce.


** Video:  Gordon Ramsay’s adventure in Vietnam
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