1. Trứng vịt lộn (BALUT)
Also found in the Philippines, where it is known as balut, the trứng vịt lộn is a macabre yet guiltily delicious twist on a duck egg. The egg is left to gestate until an embryo has been formed, then hard-boiled, creating a boiled egg with chunks of a half-developed duckling. It is as gory as you would expect, and more flavorful than any other egg you will ever have. A trứng vịt lộn goes great with some rau răm (Vietnamese coriander) and salt and pepper. Classic.
Besides trứng vịt lộn, there is also a dish which is quite similar with also a similar name “trứng cút lộn”. Actually, the two are not so different, except the trứng cút lộn is a mini version of the trứng vịt lộn. However, trứng cút lộn is way easier to eat because the egg is quite small with the size of a small pebble. Unlike trứng vịt lộn, trứng cút lộn can be cooked in many ways to create such tempting dishes besides boiled cút lộn such as “cút lộn xào me” (stir-fried cút lộn with tamarind) eaten with bread, which is adored by many food lovers.
There are two types of people in the world: those who love durian and those who hate durian. Vietnamese people usually joke that this fruit is a secret weapon to break friendships because of its smell and taste. Durian, dubbed “the king of fruits”, is a seasonal tropical fruit that grows from June to August in many Southeast Asian countries.
Then why should you want to give this smelly fruit a try? In fact, scientists have proved that durian is highly nutritious, and a moderate amount of this fruit can help an individual maintain healthy blood pressure, support one’s digestive system as well as improve cardiovascular health. However, people with diabetes should be careful when consuming durian since the fruit has high sugar content.
If you want to try durian, there are a few dessert options you can choose besides eating the fresh flesh itself. Some dishes to try are durian pie (banh pia), fried durian pie (banh sau rieng chien), and durian sweet soup (che sau rieng). The taste of sau rieng is sweet and fatty but it can cause dizziness if you can’t stand the smell. Up for the challenge?
3. Đuông dừa (Coconut worm)
Insects are odd enough as food if you think about it, but the king of odd insects has to be the coconut worm. You can experience coconut worm at South Vietnam. Found on coconut trees in relatively low numbers, the coconut worm is a specialty not for the faint-hearted. The correct way to serve them? Raw, swimming in a large bowl of fish sauce and chili peppers – as you let it soak in the flavor of the spicy fish sauce. For whoever eats this for the first time, đuông dừa is the worst nightmare. However, after the first bite, most people say it tastes like coconut! Maybe that is why the creature is called coconut worm
4. Tiết canh (Blood pudding)
Blood pudding is made from blood – most commonly duck blood, pig blood, horse blood– as well as other ingredients such as innards, fish sauce and crushed peanuts. Described as having the texture of pizza, tiết canh is said to be reinvigorating and extremely taste. Beware though – poorly prepared blood pudding has led to cases of blood contamination, cholera and even death! Somehow, strangely, it is still the favorite dish of most middle-age to old people.
5. Nhộng (Silkworm Pupae)
Another member of the creepy crawly critters family, “con nhộng” is a creamy delicacy most popular in Central Vietnam, though it can be found pretty much anywhere. The pupae is again another insect that is beloved by the drinking crowd, whether it is sauteed with piper leaves or fried. On the first glance, the silkworm pupae looks nothing different from a skinny coconut worm. However, besides the different taste, the nhộng is “luckily” cooked. There are many dishes of nhộng that Vietnamese think of and it is especially various in the mountainous areas. However, the most typical nhộng dish is stir-fried silkworm pupae.