Unique Delicacies of South East Asia

by Female Abroad

Every nation has its own version of exotic meals, such as snails or frog legs in France or guinea pig in Peru. The remarkable variety of tantalizing dishes in South East Asia are no exception; luring vast numbers of tourists each year yet also driving just as many of them away. Whatever your opinion is on strange or unique foods, South East Asia offers an amazing variety of options. Join me as I take you on a possibly mouth-watering tour of South East Asia's food scene.


While there is one street food I could not stomach called Balut (partially developed chicken that is boiled and eaten), Snake Heart was one that I could. Having had chicken hearts, beef liver & kidney in the past I just figured it would be like any of those organs but smaller; I was not wrong. However the previous organs I had eaten were cooked, the snake heart is served fresh.

A lot of snakes in Vietnam are at risk of extinction so cities around this country are slowly banning eating snake like they have done with dogs years ago. If you do decide to try this exotic meal then what happens is that someone will behead a snake, drain the blood into a shot glass for you to drink (it's supposed to be a natural Viagara), and then add the heart. You drink the heart and blood just like you are taking a shot of alcohol. Depending on how large the heart is, you may feel it still pumping while it goes down. With that ceremony done, the snake is then prepared, cooked, and eaten with nothing going to waste.


So it turns out that you are not supposed to eat the stinger portion of a scorpion - I learned this after I had already swallowed the tail. Well, I've eaten glass before, so if that didn't kill me, then I doubt a deep-fried scorpion stinger will do much. Typically, you will find scorpions skewered and roasted or deep fried in stalls around the country, with the stinger being removed before they hand it to you. I ate mine at the Thailand / Cambodian boarder at a farmers market, so perhaps they do it differently in Cambodia? Either way, the belief is that the scorpion cures illnesses like cancer or hepatitis.


While chowing down on scorpion tail, I also tried water bugs, various worms, and a couple tarantula legs. The tarantula that you eat is usually farmed by the family that is selling them, and they are bred in a way that they are not poisonous. While I quickly learned I do not like things that squish, the idea of eating the body made my stomach flip, so I stuck with the legs. It was crunchy, and as it was deep fried, there was no hair. You really would not be able to tell what it was. While tarantulas are now a tourist attraction or a must try for extreme eaters, the idea is believed to have originated during the genocide of the Khmer Rouge era, where it was "eat tarantula or starve."

Speaking of worms, I did try the Bamboo Worm, which is a favorite throughout South East Asia as it is similar to "buttery popcorn," I was told. Perhaps the person wanted me to try them or they were prepared incorrectly, but squishing a worm that squirts is not a form of popcorn I've ever had!

Each Southeast Asian country has their own specialties, but since I have only been to these three countries, I thought that I would focus on them. Have you had any of them? Would you try any of them?