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7 of the Strangest Dishes in Asia

Monday, August 23, 2021

A while back we took a look at some of the strangest foods from around the world. This time we’re going to take a more focused look at some of the strangest and most unusual dishes you’ll find in Asia. Throughout Asia, you’ll find a series of exotic customs and cultures, each with a culinary tradition of its own. From these unique cultures come a series of dishes that might make you think twice about diving in – until, of course, you give them a try.

7. The Durian Fruit

The Durian Fruit

The durian fruit is incredibly popular throughout certain parts of Asia – especially in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The truth about the durian is that you’ll either love it or hate it – there is simply no middle line. The fruit has an incredibly powerful aroma (some prefer to call it a disgusting stench) that can be smelled miles away.

The durian smells so bad, in fact, that in some areas they are banned. After cracking open the spiked shell you’ll either end up with sweet or bitter fruit, depending on the variety you pick up. You’ll definitely need a breath mint after eating this potent fruit.

6. Smelly Tofu

Smelly tofu is a dish most often served in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The name pretty much says it all. Smelly tofu is tofu that has been fermented. Often sold on the street, you can smell its pungent aroma from quite a distance – just head towards wherever you think the garbage or manure is being held. Despite the smell, most people find that smelly tofu has a really nice, decadent taste. Top it with some sweet and sour or spicy sauce and you might just find yourself craving this treat over and over again.

5. Lamb’s Brain

Lamb’s brain is a very popular dish served most often in India. Travelers who have tried this disturbing dish have actually found the meat to be very tender with a light, mild flavor. When the lamb’s brain is cooked it ends up resembling tofu, in both color and texture. It’s often served alone or with curry, fried tomatoes, masala, eggs, or even Indian roti.

4. White Ant Eggs

Most commonly found in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, white ant eggs are only one of a handful of creepy crawlies that tend to find their way into Asian dishes. White ant eggs aren’t usually served alone. They’re usually blended into a soup that includes eggs, baby ants, and half-formed embryos. Those who have tried this dish say that the eggs taste sour when they pop open on your tongue.

3. Drunken Shrimp

Served in Shanghai, drunken shrimp is nothing like you imagine. We’re used to seeing dishes where meats or fishes have been marinated in a glass of wine or some other type of alcohol but eating drunken shrimp is a completely different experience – mainly because the shrimp are still alive when you eat them.

That’s right – they’re alive. The live shrimp are served to you in a bowl of strong liquor because the liquor is thought to numb and slow them so that they won’t wiggle or twitch quite as much as you rip off their heads and eat them.

2. Tuna Eyes

Believe it or not, tuna fish eyes are a popular delicacy throughout Japan. That is, of course, if you can handle eating something that is definitely staring back at you. Tuna eyes are fatty and have a jelly-like consistency that some love. They’re very fish when eaten raw but you can fry or steam them to eat with a spicy sauce if you’d prefer something a little less slimy.

1. Fugu

The fugu, also known as the blowfish, is a dish you may or may not have seen on television before. The dish is served only in Japan and is incredibly rare because the fish is very high in tetrodotoxin – a toxin that can cause severe damage to the nervous system. Restaurants serving fugu must be licensed and can only obtain such a license after the cook goes through intensive training to ensure he knows how to remove the toxins from the fish before serving it.

The meat, once cleaned, is usually served sashimi style (raw) with soy sauce or wasabi. There are a few well-known and incredibly talented Japanese chefs who have been known to prepare fugu with just a tiny bit of the toxin left behind so that you get a tingling feeling on your lips while eating. Unless you’re very brave, this is one dish you’ll probably want to avoid.

So there you have it – 7 strange Asian dishes you may or may not find yourself exposed to during your journeys. It’s up to you to decide which ones to try but, if you do, make sure you let us know what you thought!

Watch Video Making Fugu Below:

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