- Food and Cooking
5 Unusual Exotic Asian Delicacies
It is a well-known fact that Asia is the largest continent in the world and with this is a unique culinary diversity. The food reflects and in ways more than one, represents the area and the people living in the certain region. It is important to note before proceeding that although I have covered 11, there are still more out there that are equally unusual, exotic, considered taboo and inhumane to eat in other countries but for some regions in Asia, they are the norm and part of the culture. Some foods, you may be glad to know, are banned and illegal because of certain laws passed. Unfortunately, they are still tolerated because, again, they are part of the culture.
If you know other unusual Asian foods, even the controversial ones, do share them on the comment section at the end of this page.
Here are some of the most unusual foods that are uniquely Asian, starting with...
DOG MEAT (China, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam)
If this is your first time reading about something like this, YES, some people do eat man's best friend. This practice of intentional canine slaughter and meat eating is evenly distributed in different regions of Southeast and Northern Asia. Most people in China, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam would openly criticize and deny this. That is, in a way, true since only a small percentage of the Asian population which can be segregated in small groups and regions, practice this.
So why, you ask? Dog meat, according to the loyal patrons from China, is much like the other meat but just meatier and sweeter. I could not verify this claim, of course, since I would not even consider eating one unless I was left with no other option. But according to them, just like the other meat that we usually eat, the dog's can be roasted, stewed, deep fried, and hundred other different ways.
The first time I realized that people are actually eating dog meat was about five years ago, back in the Philippines. I was tree planting then near a river in Cagayan de Oro City and on the other side of the bank, a group of villagers were skinning something that obviously looked like a charred dog. The limbs, tail and head were separated from the trunk (they were dividing it among themselves for that night's dinner) and you could see the innards and the amount of blood that run off with the current. I was dumbfounded that they could do that to a poor dog but in that area, one must realize that people do what they could in order to survive. And that realization somehow made it more bearable but still undeniably gruesome.
BULL'S PENIS (many Asian countries)
Not only the penis but also the testicles as well (including other animals' like ox, dogs, cows, horses, goats, etc). It is believed that eating the animal genitalia can enhance the virility of the man and make them last longer than usual. Some restaurants in China even hire extra people to explain the medicinal benefits of the penis and testicles.
Penises can be prepared in so many different ways and come out in so many different shapes (they even got a penis in the shape of a flower). It makes me uncomfortable talking about it, thinking that guys should be afraid if this would continue. Instead of animal genitalia, the new fad could be their own.
A fertilized duck embryo that is almost fully formed swimming in its own protein and delicious broth. I have tried this one once and I loved the broth-- not the duck. Some may have nails, bones and bits of feathers and you could taste them.
Sold by street vendors, it is not surprising that it is only sold during the night. Eating a balut is not for the weak-hearted and it is often said that even guys who seem so tough in the exterior cower at the sight of this duck egg. When eating a balut, it is imperative that you are in a dark corner (this helps) and to swallow it without chewing.
I did not finish mine and it took me almost three hours before I decided that I could not go through with it. Such a waste of a duck embryo but if it was you, you would probably make the same decision.
Oh, did I mention the presence of a beak?
BABY MICE WINE ( China and possibly Korea)
Mice that are maximum of three days old are dumped alive in a bottle of whatever liquid that is needed to brew these babies into a wine for a year. I have not seen it here in Singapore being sold by Chinese medicine stores but in China, it is a traditional drink that is believed to cure almost all kinds of illnesses imaginable.The label of the bottle is in Chinese and many Koreans do not know that this drink exists so it is most likely unique in China.
I have heard of different sources of wine but I have not imagined people would go this far. Well, people have made them into lab rats and what's the difference between the two? A lot, but if you want the bottomline, I consider both inhumane.
FRIED RATS (Vietnam and Thailand)
In countries like Vietnam and Thailand where most people live by planting rice, rats are plentiful. As their numbers are almost mind boggling, what the locals do is that they catch them and do all sorts of cooking method. Frying is one and it is said that rats do taste like frog meat (frog meat is very popular in Asia and if you know where to look, you will find it) and since they are in the rice paddies (not in the disease-infested urban areas), they are safer to eat.