Why you should have the stomach to try the best local delicacies

July 28, 2022 - 10:09
A man who goes by the name LiverKing has been making waves across social media platforms recently.
Phá lấu bò is an offal soup that is popular in HCM City. VNS Photo Việt Dũng

Seán Nolan

A man who goes by the name LiverKing has been making waves across social media platforms recently.

As his moniker suggests, he eats animals nose to tail, bones and blood, horns to hooves, and liver is his favourite.

In places like the UK, where the practice of eating offal, or animal organs, is almost extinct, it’s a pretty radical concept.

However, I wonder if his diet is considered quite as outrageous here in Việt Nam.

I went to a chả cá restaurant a few days ago. For those of you who don’t know, chả cá is a fried fish fillet and noodles dish that is absolutely delicious. However, a rather strange side accompanied the dish this time; intestines.

I gave them a try, and while the taste wasn’t terrible, they were incredibly chewy, and I certainly didn’t think they were a very good complement to the fish.

I posted the meal on Instagram and my friends back home were revolted, as I knew they would be.

This wouldn’t have always been the case though - for centuries in the UK, entrails and internal organs were considered the best part of an animal to eat, as they were the most nutritious.

However, in the past 70 years or so, offal has fallen from the hearts of the British public, and most people today couldn’t stomach the thought of a dinner plate loaded with organs (with honourable exception, of course, going to steak and kidney pies).

In Việt Nam, there are no such qualms.

Dishes such as phá lấu bò (offal soup), canh tim heo (pork heart soup) and cháo lòng (mixed offal congee) are not just readily available, but popular up and down the country.

While not quite offal, chicken feet are also a common accompaniment to a glass of beer.

There have been calls around the world to waste less meat, mimicking Việt Nam in many respects.

Green activists have been calling for the amount of meat taken from slaughtered animals to be maximised and not wasted, and they have a point.

Throwing away perfectly usable meat just because it is an unpopular cut doesn’t seem to make much sense, and it would mean fewer animals have to be reared in return for the same meat output.

Now, don’t get me wrong, people would take some convincing and I’m certainly not suggesting everyone takes up the LiverKing diet to save the world.

However, perhaps we can take a few lessons from Vietnamese cuisine, and learn to love more than just the usual cuts of meat.

Chicken feet, anyone? VNS