This blogpost is not for the faint-hearted. While wandering through the streets of Thailand during our recent trip, we came across some foods that might look ugly and unacceptable to one, but might be a delicacy for another! It is just that we are not used to eating these, but does that mean that these are not edible? No, my friend, these are relished by many, and are especially popular in Asian countries like Thailand. Have a look!
The mental block that Durian smells like one of the worst smells in the world, had always put me off from tasting the spiky fruit, though I also knew that it is known as the “King of Fruits” in South-East Asia. This time around, I happened to cross a Durian forest during one of my trips in Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand. For the first few minutes, I could not bear the repulsive smell. That moment, I was just enjoying counting the numerous ripe Durians on the trees all around me in the deep woods and how the fruit made its presence felt all over the forest by its robust smell. Soon, I found the smell to be somewhat similar to a ripe jackfruit, though Durian has a much stronger smell. After travelling farther, we came across a Thai woman selling Durian. Someone in me just told me to try it, inspite of the strong smell. AN and the kids were highly disinterested for the tasting, though. Still I went ahead and bought myself a pack of freshly scooped Durian. I opened the pack and sunk my fingers into the creamy yellow Durian flesh. As soon as I ate a small amount of the fruit, I realised that it was delicious! It was crazy good and I couldn’t stop myself eating the rest of it. I realised that the kids and AN had also joined in! We all ate the fruit and licked our fingers till the last bite. We had to buy another pack for the kids soon after the first pack got over in no time. Durian was silky, extremely creamy and sweet like sugar. Another day, I tried Durian with sticky rice and even tasted Durian ice cream and Durian chips. Back home in Mumbai, I miss this wild fruit now.
- Thousand-Year-Old Eggs
These are the blackish or greyish eggs that you often come across in Asian food markets. The Thousand-Year-Old Eggs are also known as Century Eggs. These are preserved eggs which go through a change in colour, flavour and texture. Duck or chicken eggs are soaked in a saline solution for months. The saline solution is made of clay, salt, ash, quicklime and rice hulls. As a result, the whites turn into a back jelly, whereas the yolks turn salty and grainy. The strong taste develops due to ammonia and hydrogen sulphide in the treated eggs. When we were living in Hong Kong, I developed a liking for these, though I must say that it is an acquired taste. Century eggs taste comforting with a steaming bowl of breakfast Congee!
Well, I never tried Crickets before. But these creepy crawlies are a popular snack in Thailand and it is very much a part of their cuisine! They never consider edible insects as bizarre foods. The Thai people are very particular of choosing their edible bugs. They don’t eat dead insects and they don’t obviously eat poisonous ones. They only catch them live and cook them as soon as possible. This is the first time I came across fried crickets being sold in a market. They say, these are the most commonly eaten edible insects. In Thailand, crickets are fried, boiled, roasted or sautéed with Asian sauces. Did you know that there are almost 20,000 edible cricket farms in Thailand itself?
These are a sight in the night markets. One can normally see a decent crowd around these stalls selling edible bugs such as Grasshoppers. I never gathered courage to eat one!
I have eaten silkworms before, thanks to one of my foodie friends. Honestly, I like silkworms. I ate the stir-fried ones and those tasted crunchy from outside and soft from inside. In Thailand, I found them in plenty, though I didn’t try them there.
- Blood Tofu
In Bangkok, once I ordered a bowl of soupy noodles with pork from one of the Thai stalls. When it came to me, I instantly spotted the Blood Tofu in it. Initially I was skeptical, but when I tasted a small bite, it tasted very much like chicken liver with a much different and smooth texture. It almost didn’t have much flavour and tasted almost like a cross between normal silken tofu and chicken liver. In a hearty Asian soup, Blood Tofu adds another meaty element with a twist, apart from the fact that it is nutritious.
- Crocodile meat
When we were going around the Sunday Night Market in Lamai Beach, we spotted BBQ crocodile meat sitting just next to BBQ pork ribs. That evening I wanted to try crocodile meat in skewers, but unfortunately, as we ate so much of food already, we had to drop the idea. Crocodile meat is prized because of its high-protein and low-fat composition. Crocodile meat is eaten in Asian countries as per Chinese belief, it has medicinal properties that heal the body. The Thai vendor selling the barbecued meat told us that it tastes half like pork and half like chicken!
The next post will be about all the delicious dishes that we tried in Thailand. Stay tuned!