photo: Spicy duck blood dish

Asia offers some of the most unusual dishes to those who are adventurous enough to explore. From blood soup to chicken giblets, Asia is full of surprises.

Tiết canh is a traditional dish made of blood and cooked meat that is popular in Northern Vietnamese cuisine. The most popular dish is tiết canh vịt, which is made from freshly slaughtered duck and its blood1. The fresh and raw duck blood is first collected and mixed with fish sauce to prevent premature coagulation. Meat, peanuts, and herbs are added into the mixture and cooked together2. The blood mixture is diluted with watery broth from cooked meat and set aside before serving. This dish is protein-rich and is a popular breakfast choice in Vietnam3,4.

Popular in the Philippines, balut is a two-week old duck or chicken embryo boiled in its shell5. The process of preparing balut requires an estimate of two weeks, whereas the eggs should be stored at a place not lower than 38 degrees Celsius. After the eggs are ready, they are cleaned using a damp cloth and cooked like a normal hard-boiled egg6. Balut is generally cooked and consumed on the day that it is sold to prevent the sauce inside the egg from evaporating7. Balut has several health benefits. For instance, it contains a high amount of iron and calcium to promote the circulation of blood and strengthen bones8.

Chicken giblet is another unexpected delicacy in Asia. Giblets include the necks, hearts, livers, and gizzards of the bird. They are often packaged together and included within the body cavity of the bird9. For example, popular Hainanese chicken rice stall Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore sells chicken gizzard at approximately US70 cents10. The snap and chew of the gizzards break the monotony of consuming a dish, making it a popular side dish for chicken rice11. Rich in riboflavin, a natural antioxidant, it keeps the skin, hair and liver healthy, while protecting the immune system from damage by free radicals during digestion12.


1 Vietnam Street Food. (2015). Vietnam Street Food Guide. [online] Available at: http://www.vietnamstreetfoodguide.com/2015/06/5-dishes-foreigners-think-vietnamese-crazy-eat/

2 University of Northern Iowa. (2016). All About Vietnamese Cuisine. [online] Available at: https://ids.uni.edu/vietnamesecuisine/2016/11/13/the-weirdest-vietnamese-foods-and-drinks/

3 Worldpass. (2016). Vietnamese Raw Blood Soup. [online] Available at: http://magazine.world-pass.com/en/vietnamese-raw-blood-soup

4 New Zealand Herald. (2016). Duck blood now a delicacy in Auckland. [online] Available at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11710609

5 Business Insider. (2015). We Ate Balut – The Absolute Strangest Food You Can Find In New York. [online] Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/balut-egg-duck-fetus-eat-it-2015-1/?IR=T&r=SG

6 Balay. (2017). The Egg Delicacy Called Balut. [online] Available at: http://balay.ph/balut

7 A.V. Club. (2016). Balut, the terrifying hard-boiled duck fetus that’s also a tasty aphrodisiac. [online] Available at: http://www.avclub.com/article/balut-terrifying-hard-boiled-duck-fetus-s-also-tas-244765

8 Philippine News. (2017). BALUT: Health Benefits And Reasons Why You Should Eat It. [online] Available at: https://philnews.ph/2017/04/20/balut-health-benefits-reasons-eat/

9 The Spruce. (2016). What Are Giblets? [online] Available at: https://www.thespruce.com/what-are-giblets-995697

10 Gastronomy. (2016). Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice – Maxwell & Lavender. [online] Available at: https://gastronomy.sg/2016/02/17/tian-tian-hainanese-chicken-rice-maxwell-lavender/

11 Seth Lui. (2017). 10 Awfully Delicious Offal (Innards) Dishes In Singapore You Need To Try. [online] Available at: http://sethlui.com/offal-dishes-in-singapore/

12 Livestrong. (2015). The Health Benefits of Gizzards. [online] Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/508188-the-health-benefits-of-gizzards/