We love our food. I don’t know about you but I think Asia’s food tastes like heaven. My all-time favourite is the durian. Many people dislike this ‘king of fruits’, probably because of its stench, which lasts for a long time and can be smelt from kilometres away.
However, if you’ve ever tried this fruit, you’ll know how delicious and creamy it is. Sometimes the taste of the fruit makes you forget how horrible the smell is. Probably that’s why it’s the king of all fruits.
Ever heard of the stinky tofu? It was made famous by the TV show ‘The Amazing Race Asia’. When I visited Taiwan for the first time, my tour guide suggested this smelly delicacy. We found it everywhere. So I took up the challenge and tried it. It had such a bad smell that I couldn’t bring myself to put it into my mouth, but I ended up tasting it. It actually has a light flavour and tastes great with some sweet and sour sauce.
Boendegi is actually the silkworm’s larvae. Did you know that the word actually means ‘pupa’ in Korean? While we eat onion rings as starters, in South Korea, boendegi is served as a starter in many local restaurants. It can also be bought on the street since it is a famous and much-loved treat not only among locals but also among foreigners. This dish is usually boiled or steamed as well as seasoned before serving. It has a very faint and nutty smell; however, beyond the nose-pinching smell, it is very crunchy and has a unique texture inside.
We all love tuna sandwiches, but have you tried tuna eyes? In Japan, people actually eat the tuna’s eyes, and it is actually a well-known dish. Imagine your food looking back at you. Scary, right? It may sound strange, but it is eaten mostly for its jellied tissues around the eyeball. Some people rather eat it raw but it is sometimes fried or steamed with garlic or soya sauce to enhance the taste.
There is also a rather dangerous dish in Japan called the fugu. This is a pufferfish that has been sliced very thinly and is eaten raw. It is, however, not widely distributed in Japan since the flesh of this fish is poisonous, and the preparation requires elaborate measures. It is a good dish if you’re okay with the risks.
In the Philippines, balut is recommended to people who enjoy bizarre foods. It is a boiled half-fertilized duck egg. It looks really disgusting, but again, as they say, looks can be deceiving, because it tastes pretty good. It is usually served with beer in the Philippines, but even without alcohol, it tastes yummy.
In India, besides curry, some people also eat lamb brains. It does sound preposterous, but it actually tastes nice with naan or when fried and served with curry. It actually tastes like tofu as a matter of fact. So if you ever decide to travel to any of these countries, I highly recommend you try these weird Asian delicacies. And yes, I have tried all these crazy-looking and funny-smelling dishes.
By Patricia Anne Naikar-Roges, 17, Kuala Lumpur