Why you should avoid eating these Vietnamese dishes
ASIA has quite the reputation for serving up some eyebrow-raising dishes, from Japan’s “dancing squid” to the Philippines’ balut.
Although, these dishes only seem weird to those not familiar with them. In fact, trying new food when you’re traveling is an essential part of having an authentic experience and we applaud anyone brave enough to eat a wriggling squid.
However, there are more than a handful of foods found across Asia that could actually endanger your life and cause you some serious harm.
Thankfully, Vietnamese cuisine is generally safe, nutritious and totally delicious. But that doesn’t mean a few bizarre and potentially risky dishes haven’t made it onto the menus of some restaurants and roadside kiosks.
Here’s a look at the foods you should avoid eating in Vietnam if you want to remain healthy, virus-free, and not confined to a bathroom cubicle for the majority of the day or night.
Cold soups could make for cold sweats
Pho is perhaps Vietnam’s most famous dish. The steaming bowls of clear broth, tender beef, and fresh vegetables have been filling the tums of locals and foreigners for centuries.
Pho is perfectly fine to devour any time of the day, ensuring it is piping hot, that is.
Food standard regulations aren’t particularly enforced in Vietnam, especially for roadside vendors. Meaning icky germs your gut may not be used can be found in some of the ingredients, especially if flies have landed on them.
Slurping up a cold soup could risk those bacteria entering your intestine and wreaking havoc.
If you do fancy a dish such as cao lầu, which is served at room temperature, ensure the eatery is hygienic, preferably with a kitchen you can see into.
Don’t put a toad in your hole
Whole barbequed frogs, or ếch, are a common sight in Vietnam’s food markets and are surprisingly delicious.
Contrary to popular depictions of French people only nibbling frog’s legs, in Vietnam it’s customary to eat the whole frog, only leaving the wooden skewer and a few bones.
If you’re brave enough to chow down on a whole frog, go for it, but whatever you do, don’t eat a toad. It has bufotoxins in its skin, liver, and eggs. If these toxins are ingested in large amounts, they can cause death by respiratory failure after hours of other agonizing symptoms.
To be sure you know what you’re eating and ask whether it’s Cóc (toad) or ếch (frog) before you dig in.
Don’t get clammy over blood clams
Seafood forms a huge part of the Vietnamese diet, more so in the coastal regions. Among the plethora of fish you can try in Vietnam is the blood clam, but we recommend you don’t.
These hard-shelled clams get their name and color from the high levels of hemoglobin they carry.
They are notorious for carrying serious diseases such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and dysentery.
Blood clams are already banned in some provinces in Vietnam and massively regulated in neighboring China.
However, there is tons of other shellfish on offer in Vietnam such as crab, scallops, and oysters which you can enjoy.
Eating pufferfish is like asking to visit death
Pufferfish, or Cá Nóc, is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide, yet people still choose to eat it.
There are few skilled chefs in the world that can properly prepare this fish to deem it safe for human consumption and we can guarantee a shabby-looking restaurant in a Vietnamese backstreet doesn’t employ one of them.
Don’t risk eating this potentially deadly fish, it’s not worth it.
This horseshoe crab isn’t lucky
These crusty little critters have been walking the seabed since before dinosaurs roamed the earth, that’s 300 to 400 million years ago. But they’re slowly being wiped out by those who consider them to be a delicacy and by medical researchers harvesting their blue blood.
However, there isn’t much meat in a horseshoe crab, so people tend to eat their roe instead, which has been described as having a salty plastic taste.
This roe can contain the same toxins which are found in a pufferfish, albeit lesser amounts but still highly toxic.
For the sake of your health, we suggest skipping it and digging into a garlic fried freshwater crab instead.