Thailand has earned its reputation for amazing cuisine – especially Thai curries and noodle dishes found in restaurants and street markets alike. As with most Asian cultures, however, there’s another side to food in Thailand that few are brave enough to confront. Travellers to the Land of Smiles find these foods weird, gross and outright freaky. You might need to grow some chest hairs before you try some of these outlandish Thai foods.
Deep Fried Insects (Malang Tod)
We’ll start here, with the “lesser of the evils”. Insects of every kind are simply deep fried to crunchy perfection, and seasoned. They’re kinda like the Thai version of Doritos, and pair well with an ice cold beer. A bit like peanuts at the bar.
Different variations you could try are silkworms, waterbugs (which look just like cockroaches, if you needed a mental image), large spiders, crickets, bamboo worms, and the list actually does go on and on. It seems that if a critter moves, the Thai might consider deep-frying it.
Red Ant Eggs (Larb Mote Daeng)
Typically fried, red ant eggs are extremely clean, and high in protein. They’re often prepared right along with actual red ants, which offer a tangy, lime-ish burst to the dish, as these ants tend to eat fruit, such as mangos.
The eggs are tasty, and they “pop” when chewed which, if you take a moment to forget what you’re actually eating, can be a pretty fun culinary experience. Red ant eggs are actually quite common in Thai and Asian food, as they make a healthy protein supplement to any dish, from stir-fry to salad.
Raw Beef with Uncooked Blood (Larb Leuat Neua)
We wouldn’t blame you if this one already has you gagging. Not for wimps, this meat is not rare. It’s not even lightly seared. Entirely unacquainted with a hot stove, the meat is chopped finely, seasoned, and served raw. Cold, squishy, and raw.
What about a little sauce, we hear you say? Sure! Your meat is perfectly paired with a delicious dollop of uncooked blood! Oh yes, could someone please pass the salt, and a barf bag?
Partially Developed Tadpoles (Mok Huak)
Waste not, want not… or so they say.
Well, in the Land of Smiles, nothing is wasted and everything is fair game, including frogs and their offspring. It’s one thing to fry up a few frog legs (even the French are in on that), but it’s another thing altogether to scoop out a glob of wriggling tadpoles, and serve them up with fermented fish sauce!
An alternative to the stinky fish sauce, tadpoles are also deep fried in batter and chili, and served crunchy and delicious, or can be turned into a spicy casserole cooked in banana leaves over a coal fire.
Fried Duck Beaks (Baak Bpet)
You’ve probably seen fully developed duckling eaten straight of their eggs, when researching street food in Thailand. Another little delicacy that shows the resourceful nature of the Thai people, is the deep fried duck beak.
Unfortunately, no amount of frying or seasoning can disguise the item that’s served up on your plate, so if you’re one of those people who can’t stomach eating something that still has a face… well, you probably don’t want to eat a duck’s actual face.
This Asian fruit is very well-known for one thing: its rotten stink! Believe it or not, the durian is actually banned in many public places in Thailand, for its potent stench that could clear a hall in a split second. Food critics have been quoted saying, “the durian’s odor is best described as a mixture of rotting meat, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock.”
And yet, humans apparently devoid of olfactory senses have ventured to sink their teeth into this stinker, and have found it to be uniquely sweet-and-savory, with a hint of cream. Often used in traditional desserts, the durian is often blended into a flavourful ice cream.
What makes this fruit particularly awesome is that it’s an incredible superfood and consuming it, you might just live forever. That is, if you can bear to live alone for the rest of your life. (because of how you smell)
Raw Pig’s Blood (Luu Muu)
You’ll want to say your prayers before indulging in a bowl of raw pig’s blood, deliciously spiced and enjoyed with noodles, like a regular bowl of bolognese. According to local medicals, eating (or drinking?) raw pig’s blood, which is rife with bacteria, can cause “Streptococcus suis infection” which has a fatality of 25-20% and upwards.
We reserve this experience only for the strong of heart, or those with vampire tendencies. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Street Food in Thailand – the way of the future?
You’ll find some of these wonders at just about any of the street food vendors around Thailand. While some of these dishes seem ghoulish, the Thai people are leaps ahead of the Western world when it comes to protein substitutes, such as eating insects.
With worldwide meat consumption far outweighing what the earth can realistically sustain, experts across the globe predict a coming era when insects, such as beetles and locusts, will become a primary source of protein for humankind in general.
What are the weirdest things that you’ve eaten in Thailand? Tell us in the comments…