Travelling Asia? Avoid These Dodgy Dishes

Travelling Asia? Avoid These Dodgy Dishes

Asian food is at times some of the most delicious on the planet. From classics like chicken chop suey, to katsu curry, the Orient and Middle East provide some of the best dishes to tantalise the taste buds.

However, for every meal which is knocked out of the park, there’s also a dish which would leave most westerners scratching their heads – and maybe even rushing for the bathroom.

Turtle jelly

This controversial practice sees turtle shells crushed into a fine powder, before being added to a pot of water and boiled. The result is a gooey gelatine-like substance, which is flavoured with sweeteners and herbs.

The jelly is often served as a desert, but is also said to allegedly have a curing property. Worryingly, the shells are most often taken from the endangered golden coin turtle. The myth claiming the jelly has healing powers has been the primary cause of their extreme recent dwindling numbers.

Habu sake

Habu Sake, or Habushu, is a special kind of alcohol which combines the potency of sake with the venom of the infamous Habu snake. It’s said the combination of the two ingredients makes for one of the most powerful alcoholic concoctions known to man.

According to Japan Update, the drink is even rumoured to have added to the longevity of the Okinawan population (the city which developed it), as well as proving to be a fantastic substitute for Viagra.


If you’ve never heard of balut, you’re a luckier person than I. This rather horrendous dish sees a partially-fertilised duck egg boiled inside its shell and then served up to diners. In other words, the recipe effectively sees a duck embryo boiled alive and eaten.

Why this ever became popular is a mystery. Sounding more like something out of a nightmare than an actual meal, we’d advise only trying balut if you’ve got an incredibly strong stomach.


I’m not sure if this is better or worse than balut, but it’s as equally bizarre. Shirako sees the sperm sac of a male fish taken and served cold – sometimes with a splash of ponzu vinegar. Anyone fancy some fish semen for lunch? No, didn’t think so.

Mongolian horse milk

This doesn’t sound too disgusting in and of itself, so it might be surprising to learn 1Cover actually include it on their list of the world’s most challenging food. However, it’s the process itself which makes this particular dish so dodgy.

Once the horse has been milked, the resulting liquid is placed inside a dirty leather bag, and then exposed to the sun for a week. The net result is a foul smelling and tasting lumpy gloop. It’s considered a delicacy in Mongolia.

If you’re in Asia in the near future, make sure you don’t try any of these dishes – assuming you don’t want to be puking your guts up the next day. Fancy proving the system wrong and trying to enjoy these questionable treats? Be our guest.


  1. The habushu is a pretty nutty thing for sure, I live in Fukuoka, Japan so I’m still a bit away from Okinawa .. but hey so is about everyone else. It’s a really wild product with a really wild way to make it. I guess they freeze the snakes, gut them, put them in the bottle and when they wake back up they just enough in them to start striking… which then gives the eerie striking position they are stuck in. A lot people debate if it’s moral to do that… but I guess then if they care about that, they should probably care about factory farming, and I don’t see many caring enough to do something about that… I don’t know… perhaps it’s just me with that… I honestly don’t care to too much… BUT, in the end, I would actually try it.

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