Warning: strong stomach required for this one! These foods are not compulsory to your Stray experience 😉
Walk through any market and you’ll see them. Strange bits of meat sizzling over a grill. Steaming pots with something dark and fishy bubbling up. Wobbly cubes of red goo and sponge-like intestines laid out on a tarp. There’s a wealth of opportunity for adventure in the food scene of Southeast Asia, and we’re here to take you through some of the more… exotic options.
Are you brave enough?
Aw look… it’s smiling at you! Fried bat is a delicacy that you’ll find in markets from Indonesia to Laos, and there’s no need for sauce or seasonings, just dive right into it…if you dare. Though it may look just a touch terrifying, we’ve heard it compared to something as benign as chicken or game.
In any case, you’re safe: we promise it won’t bite back.
Duck Blood Salad
Blood soup, as well as blood tofu, is something that you can find throughout Asia, but this particular delicacy is a Lao speciality – duck blood salad, also know as lued phed. It’s quite spicy, sometimes tangy and sour with lemon, and is actually frequently eaten while drinking with buddies. How’s that for party stamina?
You will smell durian before you see it. And you will know.
What other fruit has been the target of such intense adoration and hatred? On the one hand, durian supporters talk up its creamy, sweet, pudding-like interior as the King of Fruits. On the other hand, durian haters point out that – just a minor detail – it smells like rotting garbage. Or maybe heavily fermented kitchen scraps, with a week-old corpse thrown in for good measure. In fact, durian’s smell is so potent that some hotels, malls, and public transportation in Southeast Asia specifically forbid bringing it inside.
What we really want to know is… who was the first person to look at durian, see a fruit covered in sharp green spikes and reeking of death, and think, ‘I want that in my face’?
Some mysteries will never be solved.
Flickr user SunshineThailand7
Sweet Corn Milk
Alright, so we’re cheating a bit here with a drink – but this is by far one of the weirdest things we’ve ever encountered in Southeast Asia: corn milk. Sweet corn milk, at that. Guess we’ll leave the butter and salt at home…
Flickr user rosalynyoungrosalia
Bugs, Spiders, and All Other Unsuspecting Snacks
You’ll see them on Khao San Road in Bangkok, you’ll find them in Cambodia’s ‘Spider Village’ Skuon – creepy crawlies, deep fried or dipped in sauce, are not an unusual site in the late-night eateries of Southeast Asia. And why not? Some of them have plenty of protein, and make good beer snacks for those hot balmy evenings. And besides, the next time you see fried cockroaches up on offer, just think – this is finally your chance for revenge on those disgusting critters hiding in your hotel bathroom.
Just look at it. Take a good, long gander. What could this possibly be? Well, my friends, what we have here is balut, or fertilised duck egg, with a developing embryo inside. Though balut is the name this snack goes by in the Philippines, where it’s most common, you can find it in some places throughout mainland Southeast Asia as well – especially in Laos, where there’s someone grilling up eggs on almost every street corner. Our tip, straight from Stray Tour Leader Josh? If you want a grilled egg but don’t want a baby surprise inside, just look for the brown-shelled eggs – the eggs with blue shells are from the ducks.