5 Exotic Street Foods from South East Asia

by Ekta


Jan 5, 2015

For a hardcore foodie, here are some exotic street foods from South East Asia that require some great courage to try. It will surely be a super-human feat to have tried all of them.

1. Fried Cricket in Chiang Mai, Thailand

No Thailand trip is complete without tasting the mouth-watering” fried crickets sold on carts or stalls in the streets of Chiang Mai. These are wok fried insects, seasoned with Golden Mountain sauce and a bit of Thai pepper powder. Experiencing the fascinating street food in Thailand is a cultural and culinary delight.

Fried Crickets

Fried Crickets, Chiang Mai, Thailand (via dailywhat.org.uk)

2. Deep Fried Tarantula in Cambodia

Fried Tarantula Spider is a regional delicacy of Cambodia especially in the Skuon region. Even though this dish is now highly popular snack, the practice of eating spiders started out of desperation during the Khmer Rouge rule when there were severe food shortages.
The Tarantula Spiders, about the size of human palm, are bred in holes in the ground of the villages or foraged in nearby forest lands. These are then fried in oil and seasoned.

Fried Tarantula

Fried Tarantula, Cambodia (via wanderlust.co.uk)

3. Balut in Philippines

Known as Philippines’ “much loved delicacy,” Balut is half-developed duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in s shell. Balut is preferably eaten with salt, chilli, garlic and vinegar seasoning the egg. The eggs are savoured for their balance of textures and flavours. The broth surrounding the embryo is sipped from the egg. Then the shell is peeled and the yolk and young chick inside can be eaten.


Balut, Philippines (via mrstyleking.com)

4. Grilled, Barbecued, Deep-fried, Stir fried Bats in Laos

While visiting Laos, one must try the local delicacies made of bats.  A popular delicacy is Paniki from Minahasan which is made of Fruit Bats. Bat meat, apart from being grilled, barbecued or fried,  is also served in soups, stews and curries.  Palauan fruit bat soup is prepared with coconut milk, spices and ginger paste.

Weird Fact:

Bats usually emit a strong odour reminiscent of urine while cooking. This is due to the fact that bats spend most of their time in an inverted position which cause the urine and fecal matter to be stored in their bodies. While preparing the bats, they are first washed thoroughly and then cooked by adding garlic, onion, chili pepper or beer.


Stir Fried Bats, Laos (via lostworldarts.com)

5. Snake Wine in Vietnam

Vietnam’s famous Snake wine is an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. Preferably venomous snakes are used usually for their essence. The snake venom is first dissolved in the liquor. To be safe, ethanol is added which mix with the venom proteins and make it inactive.

Snake Wine

Snake Wine, Vietnam (via asiansnakewine.com)

Two types of snake wines are available:


A big venomous snake along with smaller snakes is placed in a glass jar of rice wine. Some medicinal herbs to mixed to this liquid and left to steep for many months. This wine is then drunk in small cups or as shots.


Snake body fluids are mixed with wine and consumed immediately in the form of a shot. Wine is made from snake’s blood or bile. the snake’s body is slit and blood or bile from the gall bladder is directly poured into a glass of rice wine or grain alcohol.

If your gag-reflex did not betray you while going through this article, you can give it a try to one of these while you are in a country where eating some of these species is still legal. Be aware of the environment though 🙂

Note: The inspiration to do this post came while browsing through an Air Asia in-flight magazine on way to Yogyakarta.  All photographs have been taken from the Internet. 

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About the Author


A Business Analyst who lives in Pune, Maharashtra. She loves traveling and has acquired the hobby of taking photographs. Believes in living life to the fullest and is always cheerful. Co-owner of Shadows Galore.

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