Asia’s Strangest and Surprisingly Delicious Street Food

Street food in Beijing, China
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If you travel around Asia, you will notice one very obvious fact: street food is a way of life. There are food carts, stalls, tables, and even walking food vendors in almost all streets in many major cities of Asia. Most certainly, it would be impossible to go hungry while touring Asia especially countries like China and Thailand. Here are some of the crazy and bizarre street foods from Bangkok and many streets in China.

Deep Fried Spiders – Anyone with arachnophobia or the fear of spiders would probably start to imagine these creepy crawlers being offered as food and start to scream in panic right about now. However, as long as you stay away from the streets of Hangzhou or Cambodia where it is the national delicacy, you won’t easily find them as street food. If you do happen to come across, they’re about $2 for 10 large pieces. They are black, huge, and very crispy with a gooey substance inside that tastes remarkably like chicken.

Duck Heads – While in the U.S. this would be a clothing brand, in Asia, it is street food. Traditionally, animal heads were eaten by poor peasants at a time when meat was expensive or when there was a famine. This is how it got to be popular as street food. Today, you may come across it in fancy Chinese restaurants although in many cases, the heads are served with instructions on how to enjoy the dish.

Flying Lizards – In London, they are a band. In California, it is a design shop in Capitola Village. In Beijing, its lizards grilled on a stick.

Street food in Beijing, China
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Sea Horse, Scorpions, and Crickets – Take them fried or grilled, these are more animals that are sold on the streets of China and in many of their street markets. One tip from a local is to be sure to bite them down to small pieces so the legs or other parts don’t tickle your throat when you swallow.

Fruit Wines – There are some Asian markets that sell fruit wines made in home kitchens like Thai ginseng wine, strawberry wine, loganberry wine, and lychee wine. You don’t have to buy the whole bottle because the vendors sell by the glass. The average price for one glass of wine is about $1.

Papaya Salad – Steering away from the ultra bizarre is an unusual street food dish simple called papaya salad or Som Tum. It is sold in Bangkok and was once the peasant’s food. The story goes that a Thai princess tried it and loved it so much, she wrote a song about it thereby making it a popular dish for all. It is made from green, unripe papaya shredded and mixed with other vegetables like cucumber, carrots, salty crabs, beans, spices, and peanuts. It is often served as a side dish to barbequed meat and sticky rice.

Contrary to popular opinion, most street vendors in Asia practice good hygiene and sanitation. They are also monitored by the local government which is why it is very rare for anyone to succumb to ill effects from eating from a street food vendor provided the food is cooked in front of you.

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