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Cambodia Fear Factor foods

cambodia weird foods

What’s Cambodia’s Fear Factor?

By the time I got to Cambodia, after having visiting much of Southeast Asia, I found there really wasn’t many Fear Factor Foods (mylist of posts here) I haven’t seen.

Same Same‘… but not too different.

Still, it excites me to explore cultural differences, even if it makes me squirm a bit.

Here’s a few interesting foods as well as, a couple of players I haven’t yet seen…

 

Khmer Food’s Prize Players

1. Eating Deep Fried Tarantula

It takes a bit to understand Khmer folk.Around 1975-1979, during the the  Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia underwent a food shortage. A-ping (or fried tarantula) are one of the Khmer  foods, which evolved as a result of sheer survival.  Today, a-ping is a popular snack with the Khmer and according to locals eating a-ping is said to increase one’s beauty. Dealers buy the tarantulas from hunters at about 12 cents a piece and sell them for 25 cents.

According to Travel Channel‘s Andrew Zimmern, the taste is said to be like soft-shell crab. I’ll have to take his word for it.

weird Cambodian food tarantula

A layover at a bus station to Kampong Thom, some women were selling local snacks. Woman to the left holds a tray of fried tarantula, a common delicacy of this region.

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Below is an interesting segment from Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods where he follows the entire process a-ping, from the hunting to the cooking and selling.

 

 

 2. Skinned frog

What always impresses me about Southeast Asian delicacies are the quantities in which hunters hunt and gather their frogs and insects. Fried frogs are a common snack, but what would you do with a tub of skinned frogs? Here’s a short snip of Gordon Ramsey‘s episodes on frog hunting and making stuffed frog.  Click here to see a video of how Chef Gordon Ramsey shows us how to hunt and cook Khmer stuffed frogs.

skinned frog in cambodia

How do you skin a frog?

 

 

3. Snacking on Boiled duck fetus

A popular high protein delicacy snack in Southeast Asia is boiled duck fetus.  In Cambodia  it’s called pong tea khon, in Laos it’s kai luk,  in the Phillipines it’s  balut and  in Thailand it’s called khai khao .

To eat, it you crack the shell, suck the juice from the top and then dine on the chick fetus inside. Typically, the fetus can be anywhere from 10-17 days of development. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy an egg to see what stage of development the fetus were in, but apparently (and according to this YouTube video here), they can get pretty …developed.

Egg seller weird foods

Egg seller in Phnom Phen

eating eggs in cambodia

Eating eggs in Cambodia

 

The Southeast Asian all-Star Fear Factor foods


4. Deep fried Bug Snacks

The saying is that there’s a lot of protein in bugs. I don’t know where scientists measured this, but I’ll have to take their word for it.

The deep-fried bug variety in Southeast Asia (see my Laos post) holds an assorted buffet: crickets, bamboo worms, roaches, the list goes on

There are two things insect snacks may inspire for you:

1. You’ll admire the Southeast Asian ability to catch insects in such large quantities.
2. It’ll make you look at a can of Raid differently.

weird foods eating insects

Roadside sellers at a night market selling friend insects

eating roaches

Roaches?

eating crickets in Cambodia

Eating crickets in Cambodia

 

5. Tongue, snouts and innards

At first impact, the visual display of uncommon animal parts on a food platter, hits you with unmasked horror. Until you see it again and again…

The presentation takes on a slight air of gritty humor. You have to give it up to Southeast Asian culture– at least no part goes to waste!

How does snout and tongue taste? It must be tasty enough to get through the visual turn-off. According to adventurous gastronomic bloggers, there are many tasty recipe tidbits you can make with a trail of tongue (here), pig snout (here)  and a trail of innards (here).

How adventurous would you be?

cow tongue weird foods in Cambodia

Easily find this at some street hawker stands

 

6. Shocking mystery meat presentations

You’ve gotta love local markets and the no-nonsense way they go about presenting them.

When you’re a tourist, local markets can be an entertaining playground of crime scene investigations. The only way to know what meats or foods are being sold is to play detective by recognizing the clues or parts. Initially, animal hooves and chicken feet startled me (apparently, hooves are a unique delicacy and soup favorite around the world, while deep-fried chicken feet offer a finger-lickin’ crunch). Then they became old hat. Thankfully, the variety of solvable and unsolvable crimes never end…

How long does it take you to guess the animal this belongs to?

meat in cambodia

Sometimes, you don’t want to ask

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duck in cambodia

Roasted duck.

duck in Cambodia

Those beaks must crunch.

 

The Runner-ups:

if you’re unable to see the slideshow, click here

What Fear Factor Foods have you seen on your travels or maybe even tried?

29 Comments

  1. panha says:

    hello! I from cambodia and I want to say that some bug that ppl sell they don’t caught it or hunt it they breed the and then sell it to the people that make them into food. I can tell you that frog grasshopper are breed by the ppl not caught in the wild. oh and one more thing actually good if you eat it wheb the baby is small you can just swallow the baby or close your eye eating it if you that scare.I thank you for come to visit cambodia.

  2. Maxene Patrucco says:

    Oh this is a big no-no for me! I wouldn’t dare eating all of that exotic food except when i’m in life and death situation!!

  3. Gray says:

    Oh my God. I thought I was going to be sick just reading this. If I were starving to DEATH, I wouldn’t eat any of these. Well, if I were really desperate I might eat frog meat (I’ve tried frog’s legs before), but not if it still looked like a frog.

    • @Gray: I guess I should have put a warning above the post. I think I just got an ‘unsubscribe’ off of it. LOL. I don’t blame you. I think the reality of it tests many westerners’ tolerance for cultural difference. As a western culture, I feel so lucky to have many food options available.

  4. Great food post! I know there are loads of great foods to try on our round the world trip, but Cambodia might be where we experiment the most now! Thanks for posting, really interesting!

  5. Furio says:

    haha I live in China so I feel you on all that, especially when I visit the south.

    My personal rule is: If it’s ugly I will not eat it. So far I’m still ok!

    Happy traveling ; )

  6. flipnomad says:

    ive tried the deep fried bugs… i was surprised that it didnt taste bad at all

  7. I wish some of these fear factor foods had a little bit more meat on them! I’ve seen these tarantulas but the idea that they were out in the sun a bit too long was a no no!

    Balut, well I wrote about it on my site in detail. Crunch baby duck beaks are not my thing.

    I’ve had plenty of frogs though. The skin in plain nasty so you need to remove it. But the rest of the frog is actually quite good!

    I’ve eaten plenty of weird stuff and again the biggest complaint I always have is that none of it is very filling and usually too greasy! Bring on the healthy fear factor foods!

    • @Dave: I suppose some of these foods might be a little healthier without the deep-fried grease. Although it might not be as tasty either. That tarantula seller was at a roadside rest stop, where you could tell food in general had been sitting out for a while. Had it been a little more fresh I might had been tempted bc that’s still in the fried bug collection, which I can do. But did the fact it was out i the sun for a while make you ill? Spoiled tarantula?

      I’m fascinated with fear factor foods. But my interest is always about the preparation. Like, how does one skin a frog and if you’ve got a batch of em, how long does it take?

  8. Cathy Ly says:

    I recall eating Balut in Vietnam!! Although the taste wasn’t super bad..it was honestly the texture (the crunchiness of the muscles and some bones) and knowing how developed the duck egg was. It was practically a duck baby. Ick. I don’t think I could ever do it again!!

    Cathy Trails

    • @Cathy: Wow, Fear Factor test passed! So far, you’re the highest ranking contestant. Ha ha..
      I think the “crunchiness” would get to me too. I’ve eaten a few bugs and it’s really the visual aspect that’s so hard to get past. Even though it’s in your mouth, you can visualize what you’re eating.

  9. Jacklin says:

    I haven’t been to Cambodia but looks like it’s a GRRRR go to this exotic place! Thanks for sharing, Christine!

  10. Ari says:

    I always said there’s no food I wouldn’t try … but I’ve suddenly changed my mind … !

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