Besides breath-taking sceneries and rich culture, Vietnam is also famous for its exquisite and diverse cuisine. However, in the midst of those plates, there lie some extreme ones which the toughest daredevils have to say no to. Here’s a list of dangerous Vietnamese food you mustn’t eat!
Raw Blood Pudding (Tiet Canh)
Raw blood pudding (tiet canh) is a northern Vietnam’s traditional dish. Its main ingredient is fresh blood taken from animals like pig, duck or goose… which is then mixed with minced meat, diced cartilage and flavored with fish sauce. It’s served with fresh greens, chili, and limes. Even though many locals love this unique creation, it’s one of the most dangerous Vietnamese foods because raw blood might contain harmful bacteria (for example swine bacteria in pig’s blood, H1N1 virus in duck’s blood). There have been reports about casualty caused by eating this dish.
Tiet canh is made from raw blood, which might be contaminated with lethal bacterias.
Puffer Fish (Ca Noc)
One can say that puffer fish is the “femme fatale” of the food industry. Adored for its delicate taste and feared for its poison, puffer fish remains a favorite among food lovers. The dish is made with fresh, non-toxic parts of the fish. The chef, who must be trained for years, will then slice it up and serve it as sashimi. Unfortunately, if the fish is not processed correctly, consumers may get poisoned by the deadly tetrodotoxin, which can cause tingling, dizziness, muscle weakness and even respiratory paralysis. In Vietnam, several people have been hospitalized from eating puffer fish.
Puffer fish looks good but deadly dangerous.
Some may make an honest mistake of confusing frogs (ech) with toads (coc). Nevertheless, while frogs are a delicacy in Vietnam with diverse variations like frog porridge (chao ech), grilled frog (ech nuong), stir-fried frog (ech xao lan) … toads are in the top ten dangerous Vietnamese food. As a great source of protein and zinc, toad meat is usually used for porridge and rousong (or ruoc) to revitalize the sick. But, similar to pufferfish, if it’s not processed properly, bufotoxin in toad’s liver and eggs can cause cardiac dysfunction and even death in severe cases.
Toads can be mistaken for frogs, so check carefully for your safety.
Tap water is considered safe for drinking in many developed countries. For water in Vietnam, it’s a different story. Due to the inadequate purifying system and the uneven installation of standard piping, water in a number of places has a high level of chlorine or alum. What is more, in remote areas, there aren’t any filter systems, the locals would pump water directly from the underground, without any regard to the bacteria that might be in it. Therefore, the reason for your upset stomach could be in the water you have just drunk! Even though tap water isn’t lethal, we suggest that you opt for bottled water when you’re on a vacation here in Vietnam.
There’s a variety of bottled water in Vietnam, so grab these instead of tap water.
Dog Meat (Thit Cho) / Cat Meat (Thit Meo/Tieu Ho)
Vietnam is one of the consumers of these controversial dishes. However, the reason we’re putting these on this list isn’t for the farmed dogs/cats debate, but for the black market of dogs and cats in Vietnam. Even if you have the heart and the guts to try some, there is little to no guarantee that the meat is free from harmful bacteria, which means that you can get infected by rabies and other deadly animal-borne diseases.
Dog meat is a controversial and unsafe source of protein
Fresh vegetables to a Vietnamese recipe is the important side dish that ties the entire meal together. Without it, the food won’t be as aromatic. So, how does this seemingly innocent ingredient get to be one of the dangerous Vietnamese food that you should watch out? If the pesticides and dirt are not washed off carefully, the vegetables will definitely cause an upsetting stomach. Therefore, the best way is to prepare your veggies thoroughly at home, or if you’re eating out, you ask the vendors to dip the vegetables in hot water before eating.
Always check if your vegetables are washed carefully with clean water.
Fruits (Trai Cay) With Edible Skin
Thanks to the tropical weather, Vietnamese fruits are one of the world’s best. However, farmers here use pesticides as well, and some don’t follow the standard regulations. Therefore, there’s a good chance that pesticides are still on the skin of the fruits you’re about to eat! For fruits that you have to get the skin off before eating like bananas or dragon fruits, this won’t be much of a deal-breaker. However, for ones that you usually leave it on like apples and grapes, we recommend you to wash those fruits carefully, or better yet, peel the skin off for your own safety.
Buy fruits from reliable stores and always wash them first before eating.
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Summary On Dangerous Vietnamese Food
Food poisoning is a global concern and if you’re not careful, you can consume disturbing substances anywhere, not just in Vietnam. Even though we are not famous for the best hygiene, our street food and traditional dishes can top any charts, so don’t let fear stop you from trying good food. Just remember to check guides on how not to get food poisoning carefully, ask for advice or book a tour! We have i Love Food Motorbike Tour and i Really Love Food Motorbike Tour, where you can try safe, clean and ridiculously delicious Vietnamese food.