Every new year comes with another year’s worth of practical and impractical resolutions. If you’ve set your mind on stepping outside your comfort zone, start off with a pledge to be more gastronomically adventurous. Every culture has its own odd culinary dishes and delicacies but Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines usually take the cake.
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Balut, a well-known Filipino delicacy, is like your conventional hard-boiled egg, except it’s actually half-fertilized. This means you’ll have a partially developed fetus of a duck or chicken where you would usually find yolk. Filipinos believe them to be aphrodisiacs and often enjoy them as a snack to accompany their beer. Take a deep breath and go for it!
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If you’ve smelt durian even once, you will always remember it. Even with the husk intact, the notorious Asian fruit has such a potent and indescribable stench that it is banned from public transportation in Singapore. This love-it-or-hate-it fruit is an acquired taste but also packed with rich vitamins. Before taking the full dive, ease into the flavor with some durian-flavored ice cream or durian puffs at dim sum.
Don’t worry, these eggs aren’t actually a century old. This Chinese delicacy are duck eggs that are preserved for a few weeks in a mixture to clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hull. This process transforms the yolk to a creamy dark green-gray color while the egg white become translucent and almost jelly-like. Pair it with tofu, add a drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil, and top with some refreshing cilantro and scallions for a quick and easy appetizer for your first foray.
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Are you a coffee fanatic? Known to be one of the most expensive coffees in the world, Kopi Luwak is produced mainly in Indonesia. Made from partly digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by civets, this brew is earthy, smooth, and has chocolate undertones. Although a $25 brew is not something we would opt for on the regular, it is definitely a must-try.
Live Octopus (Sannakji)
Photo Courtesy of Bizarre Foods
If you’re a stickler for fresh sushi, you may be in for an unexpected and controversial treat. Sannakji is live baby octopus cut into small pieces immediately before being served. Lightly seasoned with sesame oil and seeds, the pieces are still squirming on the plate. The flavor is extremely mild but it’s the slimy and chewy texture that attracts culinary daredevils. Pro tip: remember to chew extensively before swallowing to avoid choking!