World’s strangest national dishes

Five strange foods from around the world you might be adventurous enough to try … or not.

Shirako, Japan
Caviar is considered a delicacy all over the world but what about the male equivalent? Shirako is a special dish made from milt, the sperm-filled reproductive glands of male fish (such as cod, anglerfish or puffer fish). The word shirako translates to ‘white children’ and when cooked, has a creamy, custard-like texture. It is also served raw, but you don’t want to know what that tastes like.

Airag, Mongolia
Airag, also known as kumis, is an alcoholic spirit which is said to have a mild, carbonated, slightly acidic flavour, and is made from fermented mare’s milk. The horse milk is filtered through a cloth into a cow’s stomach and hung just outside the entrance of a family’s yurt, or nomadic tent. It is left to ferment until it reaches around five per cent alcoholic content. The Mongolian’s passion for drinking airag means they have the highest prevalence of cirrhosis of the liver in the world. We’ll stick with water. 

Trung vit lon, Vietnam
Eaten for its aphrodisiac powers, trung vit lon is fertilised duck egg with a nearly developed embryo inside. This popular Vietnamese dish varies between regions, with northerners typically preferring their eggs developed enough for the embryo to have a beak and claws. Inside, the unborn chick’s bones are firm but tender. Trung vit lon is made by boiling the egg and eating the contents straight from the shell. No, thank you. 

Boshintang, North and South Korea
On the Korean peninsula, man’s best friend is also man’s best-tasting friend. Made with noranke (yellow dog), boshintang is the most common dish involving dog meat. The noranke dogs are raised specifically for human consumption. The meat is boiled with green onion, dropwort, perilla leaves and perilla seed powder to make a soup. The dish is served at more than 6000 restaurants in South Korea, despite pressure from international animal rights groups. Numbers in North Korea are unknown. 

Muktuk, Greenland
Muktuk is a delicacy made from the frozen blubber and raw skin of the bowhead whale, although the beluga and the narwhal are also used. Greenland’s Inuits traditionally ate the dish raw, though today it is sometimes diced, breaded, deep fried and served with soy sauce. When eaten raw, the skin and fat are textured and rubbery, with a nutty flavour. Yum, a real treat.

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Amelia Theodorakis
Amelia Theodorakis
A writer and communications specialist with eight years’ in startups, SMEs, not-for-profits and corporates. Interests and expertise in gender studies, history, finance, banking, human interest, literature and poetry.
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