The 7 most unusual Vietnamese dishes
- on Feb 26, 2021       By: BN
Most travellers to Vietnam already know the stars of Vietnamese cuisine such as spring rolls, pho soup or the essential bun bo but are less familiar with certain more atypical dishes, sometimes not appearing appetising at first, which emphasises the extreme diversity of Vietnamese cuisine.
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Dog meat is certainly the dish foreign travellers dislike most. The consumption of dog meat is part of the Vietnamese culinary tradition but is considered taboo among the younger generations and is becoming less and less popular, especially as the Vietnamese authorities have asked the inhabitants of Hanoi to stop consuming dog meat, stressing that this popular dish tarnished the country's image with foreigners.
Roasted, boiled or steamed, dog meat is sold in markets and food shops in the Vietnamese capital. Many Vietnamese consume dog meat for the virtues they provide according to popular beliefs. It is believed that eating dog meat at the end of the lunar month makes you stronger and more manly, better in bed, cures certain illnesses and reverses bad luck.
Balut is a very popular dish in Vietnam because they are very nutritious, taste good and are very economical.
For centuries, young and old have enjoyed them as a high protein snack. It is a duck egg (sometimes a chicken egg) incubated for nearly three weeks then steamed and served as is, in its shell.
The balut is a hard-boiled egg that contains not a yolk and a white but an already well-formed foetus. You attack your balut at the flattest end of the shell, unlike a hard-boiled egg, because there is an air pocket there that makes it easier to open. You can then add garlic and chilli vinegar or salt, and drink the juice.
Snake meat is a popular dish in Vietnam despite its high price. According to enthusiasts, the snake tastes like chicken, as long as it is not overcooked, otherwise it becomes rubbery.
In Vietnamese medicine, this meat protects against certain cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or kidney infections. The bile of the snake, it is considered excellent for the immune defences.
In the suburbs of Hanoi, Le Mat village is famous for its many restaurants specialising in the preparation of snake meat. You choose your snake from a vivarium and it will then be cooked in 5 different ways and you will also be invited to drink a small glass of the snake's blood. Notice to seekers of new experiences!
One of Vietnam's most unusual dishes is coagulated fresh blood soup.
It is made from fresh blood from pigs, ducks or goose. Then we add boiled water, glutamate, Vietnamese fish sauce called nuoc mam and some animal giblets. The whole thing will be left to coagulate then accompanied by a few peanuts and fresh aromatic herbs; the soup is ready to be tasted. To keep the flavour of the dish, it is traditionally eaten cold.
Consumed a lot in the countryside and in particular in the remote villages of the ethnic minorities of northern Vietnam, grilled insects are becoming more and more popular in the city where the Vietnamese like to eat them while drinking a few beers in the famous bia hoi, the micro-breweries that are found everywhere in Vietnam.
Worms, locusts, crickets, spiders or scorpions will brighten up and spice up your aperitifs in Vietnam. You will be surprised by their crispness and delicious nutty taste.
Mam tom is a fermented shrimp paste that is frequently used in Vietnamese cuisine. This light pinkish-grey paste has a very powerful smell and very often panics the nostrils of foreign travellers who are not used to this kind of condiment.
There is one popular street food that Vietnamese particularly enjoy, and it is "bun dau mam tom" or tofu served with rice noodles, aromatic herbs and the famous shrimp paste. A real delight for discerning palates only!
Jellyfish soup is a very popular dish all over the Vietnamese coastline. You will find it in many seafood restaurants in Halong Bay or the resorts of Nha Trang and Quy Nhon in particular.
Even if the followers of this slightly spicy food recommend it for its high protein and carbohydrate content, jellyfish does not have a particular flavour, but an astonishing texture that is rather appreciated. Contrary to popular belief, its flesh is not sticky but crunchy and rubbery like black mushroom.
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