Top 25 Strange Foods To Try When You Travel
Depending on your perspective, encountering bizarre, exotic foods while travelling can be the best – or the worst – part of travel abroad.
Whether you’re the adventurous type, or you get squeamish just thinking about foods like deep-fried crickets, exotic fare is a surefire sign you’re far away from home.
For most of us here are our top 25 weird foods to try (or simply spy) when travelling abroad.
1. Salted Flying Lizard
Fancy some dried flying lizard? Of course you do! Just head to Hong Kong’s Dried Seafood Street and look for the flattened, salted, dried carcasses of winged lizards on a stick. Bonus: dried flying lizard, when steeped in tea, is said to cure respiratory conditions!
2. Sauté Of Sea Slug
These massive slugs are traditionally cooked with mushrooms, cabbage, and tea eggs. Don’t let the slippery exterior fool you – sea slugs may look like slimy, oversized worms, but they’re actually packed with protein and are said to treat kidney problems.
3. 100 Year-Old Eggs
Ok, so these eggs are nowhere near 100 years old, but they are purposefully rotten. After months of preservation in a mixture of lime and clay, the eggs turn a decidedly unappetizing shade of green and take on a sulfurous aroma. Mmmmm….
4. Snake Sausage
Often barbequed and offered in “cook it yourself” restaurants, snake is also a staple of Khmer street food. Delicious, nutritious, and sort of tastes like chicken!
Basashi is raw horse meat sliced thin and served sashimi-style with soy sauce and ginger. If you’re feeling really adventurous, ask for a serving of white Basashi, which is fat from the horse’s neck.
Shirako, sperm sushi, yes - sperm sushi and it isn’t just sperm – it’s the raw or cooked sperm sacs of the male cod or tuna fish. In Japan it is a delicacy like so many other foods but also considered an “acquired taste” (we can understand why).
7. Duck Tongue
Not only do ducks have tongues, their tongues are delicious! Typically fried like bacon, tiny duck tongues contain fat pockets that melt deliciously when cooked and will be made up into a pre main course salad.
8. Deep Fried Tarantula
What do you get when you toss a zebra tarantula into a mixture of garlic, MSG, sugar and salt? One of the most popular street foods in Thailand and Cambodia. These enormous spiders are deep-fried and sold on the street for as little as $0.08.
9. Fried Beetle
You’ll typically find fried beetle mixed in with other fried insect offerings on the street in Thailand. Choose from deep-fried weevil or deep-fried water beetle – both are said to be delicacies!
10. Fried Silk Worm
Forget canned, frozen, or chocolate-covered varieties of silkworm – the most delicious variety is definitely the sweet and sour kind! Typically served with soy sauce, noodles, and pineapple chunks, the sweet and sour variety of silkworm will melt – er, ooze – in your mouth.
11. Chocolate-coated Frog Legs
Leave it to the Thai people to combine the world’s most popular meat with the world’s most popular treat. That is to say, even when covered in chocolate, frog legs (like snake) taste just like chicken!
12. Fried Grasshopper
In Southern Vietnam, grasshoppers are boiled, dipped in a mixture of spices and egg yolk, and then fried in soy sauce until crispy. Crunch!
13. Balut, aka Duck Fetus
Balut is a duck embryo that has been boiled alive in its shell. It is eaten directly from the shell which is cracked open after boiling to reveal the baby duck inside. Warning: there may or may not be feathers involved.
14. Grilled Dog
Vietnam, Cambodia, China
Dog meat is as common in Vietnam and China as chicken, pork, and beef. It is served in roadside restaurants that specialize in all sorts of preparation techniques. Choose from grilled dog, fried dog, dog soup, or even – gasp – young dog (puppy).
15. Cat Meat
Cat is served in Vietnamese restaurants in the same way seafood is served in the West. Diners can choose a live cat from a mournful-looking cage usually housed in the back of the restaurant. The chosen feline is then, um, prepared while the diner waits.
16. Chicken Feet
Asia, South America, Africa
Not so uncommon these days in the Chinese district of many larger cities it is certainly a common street food staple throughout Asia. Chicken feet are also sold in many convenience stores as a dried snack, sort of like beef jerky (with claws).
17. Harkarl - Rotten Shark
Harkari is an Icelandic delicacy and the country’s national dish. Sleeper shark (or Greenland shark) is hung to dry, rot, and ferment over a period of 4-5 months. Once the smell is strong enough, you know it’s time to eat!
18. Stinky Tofu
Sold (and smelled) everywhere in Taiwan, stinky tofu is fermented bean curd. It smells like a cross between a locker room after a hard played game of football and a two day old dead body, but is said to taste delicious (just plug your nose!).
The unofficial national dish of Scotland due to a ode by Robert Burns it is comprised of various organs of the sheep (offal). These organs are minced, mixed with seasoning and oats, and then placed typically into a sheep’s stomach to stew for hours before serving traditionally with turnips and potatoes.
In this traditional Middle Eastern delicacy, usually the feet of the cow, however the head and other parts can be added, are boiled overnight, sometimes with lavash. The meat is then served with peppers, radish, watercress, and most importantly, washed down with vodka.
21. Stinkhead Fish
Alaska and others
Alaskans can’t get enough of Stinkhead fish, which is the fermented head of a rotten whitefish. Maybe a side of stinky tofu will complement nicely? Harkarl is a non fish head also a version of this. There are versions one form of another in Scandivania, Egypt, India, Greece, Japan and throughout Southeast Asia.
22. Blood Sausage
The animal of your choice can be used to make blood sausage. Simply cook their blood with a filler like cornmeal or barley until the mixture congeals, then pack the mixture into the shape of a sausage. There are varieties throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
23. Wasp Cookie
This is exactly what it sounds like – a sweet biscuit either a rice cracker style or more traditional that has been stuffed to the brim with dead wasps. Like many of the items on the list, usually consumed with your favourite alcoholic beverage. Buzzzzzz.
24. Grilled Rodent
For poor minority cultures in Northern Vietnam, meat is often expensive and difficult to obtain. That’s why grilled rodent, rats or mice have become a staple of many Hmong tribes there. In many towns and villages you will almost certainly see these offered by local street vendors.
25. Insect Caviar
Do you like the rich, sweet flavor of anise? How about the comforting scent of cinnamon? Both can be yours when you take the plunge and help yourself to some live stink bugs or water bug eggs in Mexico. The curiously sweet stink morsels require some dexterity, however – since they’re eaten live, it’s likely they may try and crawl right off your tortilla!
What strange foods have you sampled on your travels?
Which food stands out as the grossest or the most surprisingly delicious?