Vietnam cuisine is diverse, abundant and attractive to international tourists, however there are some dishes that frighten tourists such as Trung Vit Lon (Duck embryos), Duong Dua (Coconut worms), snake wine and crispy fried insects.
Let’s challenge your courage through the dishes below:
Trung Vit Lon is made from duck eggs when the embryo has developed into shape but not hatched for certain reasons. Trung Vit Lon is processed in many ways such as boil, fried with tamarind. It is one of the most popular dishes in Vietnam and considered a nutritious but scary food when the egg is opened revealing a full small duck with hairy parts.
Trung Vit Lon is sold in every street of Vietnam from rural areas to alleyways. Just a small table, some chairs and a pot of boiled eggs and the shop is ready to serve. The Vietnamese have a habit of eating Trung Vit Lon in the morning or late evening.
This is an affordable dish that is delicious and nutritious for locals. For many international tourists, however, it is a horror when they see the Vietnamese eating Trung Vit Lon.
Duong Dua is one of the specialties in Vietnam; for many people, however, seeing the fat worms crawling about is enough to give the creeps let alone put into one’s mouth.
Duong Dua is a form of beetle larvae. After the breeding season the beetle usually chooses the healthy coconut, pierces a hole on top and lays the eggs in it. After the eggs hatch, the larvae grow by eating the young shoot of the coconut tree until the tree is pierced through.
Although the coconut is spoiled by Duong Dua, the worms are delicious and are a delicacy in the coconut land of the Mekong River delta. Duong Dua is a harmful species and breeding them is prohibited. Consuming them is believed to enhance men’s sexual abilities. One kilogram of Duong Dua usually costs 500.000 Dong (about 23 USD); out of season the price is even higher.
Especially in the Tra Vinh area, there are Duong Tra La (Date-palm worms). Each palm tree has only one worm occupied until it grows wings and flies away. If you look at the withered top of the tree, you may find a worm inside. Duong Cha La is fat and meaty and people can fry or roast. However this is another dish that makes frightens people.
Ruou Thuoc refers to a kind of traditional liquor in Vietnam. People make it by mixing herbs with raw animals or insects such as snakes, scorpions, lizards in liquor and keep it for a long time. Eventually, the herbs and animals to dissolve in liquor.
The animals are usually soaked live, just roughly processed and not cooked. Some animals’ whole bodies are placed in the jar like cobras. In addition to gecko, seahorses and bees, I have seen a monkey soaked in a big bottle of liquor.
The good thing about Ruou Thuoc is that when the liquor is distilled, the herb is preserved for a long time and reduces toxicity of the alcohol. Herbs soaked in liquor are believed to act as a general tonic, effective at stimulating digestion and enhancing sexual ability. However, if you have a weak mind you should not try it as the appearance of the bottle itself is enough to make you horrified.
Tiet Canh is a popular dish of Vietnamese people. It is processed in different ways. Tiet Canh is made from animal blood, fresh after slaughtering, coupled with light fish sauce or salt water, thoroughly stirred with chopsticks and mixed with minced meat, spring onions, and groundnut so that the blood coagulates.
After boiling the meat, the cook cuts some cartilage, gizzard, tripe, chopped into small bits and put in a bowl. The substance on the surface of the blood is brushed off, then some broth is mixed with blood and gently and quickly sprinkled on the dish.
Tiet Canh also can be made as duck pudding and goat pudding. The most popular meats to make it with however are pig and duck. Very rarely people have chicken and this type of poultry is fishy and can cause disease.
Tiet Canh is popular and can be found easily at road side restaurants in Vietnam. Despite its tastiness it can make you shiver when you see it.
A lot of people see mice as the most hideous and frightening animal but rice mouse are served as a specialty in the menu of many Vietnamese restaurants.
Mouse is most delicious in the countryside at harvest seasons. Mice that live in the rice field only eat rice and they are clean and fat. Farmers usually hunt and catch fat mice for food; the traps can be seen everywhere in the rice field during harvest time.
Mouse meat is white and tastes like chicken. A mice after quick processing will be cooked in many dishes from simple to sophisticated. There are hundreds of ways to cook the rats; some include sliced mouse with chili and coconut milk, fried minced mouse with lemon leaves or grilled sandwiched mouse.
The trapped mice are prepared by peeling the skin, cutting off the limbs, tail and nodes, and throwing away the intestine. Only the kidney, heart and liver are dried up. Mouse meat can be kept and preserved by salting in the jars to keep fresh. People also make mouse sauce.
By Nguyen Phong.