Asia has some of the most complex, nuanced and tasty cuisine in the world. Whether it’s a butter chicken or toasted naan in India; a bowl of ramen topped with slices of slow cooked pork in Japan or crispy Peking duck wrapped in pancakes in Beijing, few people don’t drool at the thought of Asia’s iconic dishes. That said, Asia also has some of the most weird and wonderful dishes that only the brave will try. Here’s our list of the strangest plates you can eat in the East.
Dancing shrimp, Thailand
Visiting Thailand? Don’t miss a bowl of dancing shrimp. These tiny, sweet freshwater shrimps are marinated in chillies, fish sauce and lime juice which gets them jumping all over the place when you uncover the bowl.
Balut, South East Asia
Popular across Vietnam and Indonesia, balutare essentially half-fertilized chicken or duck eggs. After they’ve been boiled, you can crack the shell to reveal a foetus complete with tiny bones, beak and developing feathers wrapped in the hard-boiled egg.
Fish sperm, Japan
While fish roe (the eggs) are popular across the world, only in Japan is shirako, fish sperm prized. It doesn’t matter where you are – in a sushi bar or Japanese pub – you won’t have trouble finding the male genitalia of fish, quickly blanched and served with dipping sauce.
Bird’s nest soup, China
Perhaps one of the best-known dishes on our weird list. It’s made from the rare nests of Swiftlets who make their delicate homes from their own saliva. The bowl of soup is actually less terrifying that you might imagine – slightly sweet and gelatinous.
Century egg, China
Sometimes called Thousand Year Eggs, these pink beauties are made by burying the eggs in a mixture of wood ash, clay and salt for several months. Once opened, instead of being white and orange, you’ll find a jelly-like substance that’s transformed into a dark green and grey colour. Not for the fainted hearted.
Not for those with a phobia of spiders. In rural areas of Cambodia, locals head off into the forests to catch large tarantulas which are deep-fried until crispy. Yum.
This prized delicacy in Japan is made from the flesh of the pufferfish, one of the most poisonous marine creatures on earth. Only trained and highly skilled licensed chefs are allowed to prepare the fish whose organs contain a lethal poison.