Asia’s top 5 most nightmarish foods

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Far East has long been known as a place where the boundaries of food aesthetics are regularly tested. This is because for most of Asiatic cultures, it is not what the meal looks like, but how it tastes that measures the addictiveness of that particular morsel.

Throughout my seven-year sojourn in Asia, I have tempted myself to try many a nightmarish dish, often extremely affordable and surprisingly more delicious once eyes are closed.

Here is a tongue-and-cheek list of some of the more harder-to-look-at foods I’ve managed to swallow down.

BalutBalut, Philippines

Nothing arguably sends out a more nightmarish chill than staring a partially formed chicken fetus straight in the partially formed beak. Yet this is a delicacy that is still widely enjoyed by many a Filipino.

Procedure: Crack the often-scolding hot egg (it has been incubated) on the top, most narrow portion of the shell. Break open a tiny piece of the shell and suck out the liquid. Afterwards, and this is the nightmarish bit, swig the egg back and let the unformed chicken fetus slide into your mouth. Feel the slight snap of beak and bones, and then follow your “chicken shot” with a finger scoop of the yolk – veins and all.

Taste: The chicken fetus, far from being a pile of bones, has a condensed texture to it, almost like a heavy soup.

Cost: 18 Philippine pesos

Chicken testicle soupChicken testicle soup, Taiwan

When attending weddings in Taiwan and other Chinese cultures, it is customary to eat exotic foods, such as bird’s nests, and, yes, chicken testicles. While they may not be a favourite of foreign guests present, they can still be stomached with the right gut.

Procedure: Served in a chicken broth, the chicken testicles come as nature made them – in a pair. This delicacy is bitten into like a dumpling and followed by a few slurps of warm soup.

Taste: The taste of chicken testicles is not far from that of aged Jello: a hardened exterior and surprisingly rubbery interior. The only real difference is that the testicles have veins.

Cost: Comes free when joining a wedding

Bug cartBug carts, Thailand

So many visitors have become fascinated by Thailand’s so-called “critter carts” that it seems many vendors simply stake out high-traffic tourist roads and charge per picture, making more than the bugs themselves would sell.

Beyond the kitsch, this deep-fried, heavily salted bugs are pretty tasty – especially when chased with some Singha beer.

Choice: Choose from crickets, silkworms (my personal favourite), water bugs, scorpions and silkworm pupae.

Taste: At times too salty from overloaded soy sauce, but altogether a protein-filled experience. The legs of crickets tend to get suck in one’s teeth, so have a toothpick ready.

Cost: About 20 baht a bag

Dog meat is relatively common in Vietnam, and when grilled is called thit cho nuongBBQ dog, Vietnam

While I have always kept this fact a tucked away secret fearing castigation by owners of one of humanity’s most cherished domestic companions, I must now admit that I have indeed eaten dog. A popular dish in Cambodia, Vietnam and China, BBQ dog is, simply put, the other, other meat.

Taste: Depending on how it is served, dog is comparable to a darker, denser kind of meat. If barbecued, the skin is quite similar to roast pig, especially if it is seared to perfection.

Cost of dog meat soup: 30,000 dong

duck-head-and-neckBoiled duck head, China

Still served on the streets of China’s showcase capital of Shanghai, clearly this cosmopolitan city hasn’t forgotten how to show its distinctly instinctive and bold side. Duck head platters can be for special occasions or simple street meals, but either way they are a process.

Procedure: The most common way to head a duck head is to take out and eat the tongue first. Following that, crack the duck head and sip out the brains or simply finger them out.

Taste: Tongue is known for having a rubbery taste to it and can keep your jaw moving as if you were eating gum. The brains, well, lets just say there is a reason why the Chinese prize these soupy innards so much.

Cost: 9 to 14 Chinese yuan

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The Far East has long been known as a place where the boundaries of food aesthetics are regularly tested. This is because for most of Asiatic cultures, it is not what the meal looks like, but how it tastes that measures the addictiveness of that particular morsel. Throughout my seven-year sojourn in Asia, I have tempted myself to try many a nightmarish dish, often extremely affordable and surprisingly more delicious once eyes are closed. Here is a tongue-and-cheek list of some of the more harder-to-look-at foods I’ve managed to swallow down. Balut, Philippines Nothing arguably sends out a more nightmarish...

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Far East has long been known as a place where the boundaries of food aesthetics are regularly tested. This is because for most of Asiatic cultures, it is not what the meal looks like, but how it tastes that measures the addictiveness of that particular morsel.

Throughout my seven-year sojourn in Asia, I have tempted myself to try many a nightmarish dish, often extremely affordable and surprisingly more delicious once eyes are closed.

Here is a tongue-and-cheek list of some of the more harder-to-look-at foods I’ve managed to swallow down.

BalutBalut, Philippines

Nothing arguably sends out a more nightmarish chill than staring a partially formed chicken fetus straight in the partially formed beak. Yet this is a delicacy that is still widely enjoyed by many a Filipino.

Procedure: Crack the often-scolding hot egg (it has been incubated) on the top, most narrow portion of the shell. Break open a tiny piece of the shell and suck out the liquid. Afterwards, and this is the nightmarish bit, swig the egg back and let the unformed chicken fetus slide into your mouth. Feel the slight snap of beak and bones, and then follow your “chicken shot” with a finger scoop of the yolk – veins and all.

Taste: The chicken fetus, far from being a pile of bones, has a condensed texture to it, almost like a heavy soup.

Cost: 18 Philippine pesos

Chicken testicle soupChicken testicle soup, Taiwan

When attending weddings in Taiwan and other Chinese cultures, it is customary to eat exotic foods, such as bird’s nests, and, yes, chicken testicles. While they may not be a favourite of foreign guests present, they can still be stomached with the right gut.

Procedure: Served in a chicken broth, the chicken testicles come as nature made them – in a pair. This delicacy is bitten into like a dumpling and followed by a few slurps of warm soup.

Taste: The taste of chicken testicles is not far from that of aged Jello: a hardened exterior and surprisingly rubbery interior. The only real difference is that the testicles have veins.

Cost: Comes free when joining a wedding

Bug cartBug carts, Thailand

So many visitors have become fascinated by Thailand’s so-called “critter carts” that it seems many vendors simply stake out high-traffic tourist roads and charge per picture, making more than the bugs themselves would sell.

Beyond the kitsch, this deep-fried, heavily salted bugs are pretty tasty – especially when chased with some Singha beer.

Choice: Choose from crickets, silkworms (my personal favourite), water bugs, scorpions and silkworm pupae.

Taste: At times too salty from overloaded soy sauce, but altogether a protein-filled experience. The legs of crickets tend to get suck in one’s teeth, so have a toothpick ready.

Cost: About 20 baht a bag

Dog meat is relatively common in Vietnam, and when grilled is called thit cho nuongBBQ dog, Vietnam

While I have always kept this fact a tucked away secret fearing castigation by owners of one of humanity’s most cherished domestic companions, I must now admit that I have indeed eaten dog. A popular dish in Cambodia, Vietnam and China, BBQ dog is, simply put, the other, other meat.

Taste: Depending on how it is served, dog is comparable to a darker, denser kind of meat. If barbecued, the skin is quite similar to roast pig, especially if it is seared to perfection.

Cost of dog meat soup: 30,000 dong

duck-head-and-neckBoiled duck head, China

Still served on the streets of China’s showcase capital of Shanghai, clearly this cosmopolitan city hasn’t forgotten how to show its distinctly instinctive and bold side. Duck head platters can be for special occasions or simple street meals, but either way they are a process.

Procedure: The most common way to head a duck head is to take out and eat the tongue first. Following that, crack the duck head and sip out the brains or simply finger them out.

Taste: Tongue is known for having a rubbery taste to it and can keep your jaw moving as if you were eating gum. The brains, well, lets just say there is a reason why the Chinese prize these soupy innards so much.

Cost: 9 to 14 Chinese yuan

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