1. Tuna eyes
If you can get over the whole your-dinner-is-staring-you-right-in-the-face thing, then supposedly these eyes are among the finest tasting in the world, with their “fatty, jelly-like tissues.” In Japan, the dish is served fried with garlic and soya sauce, and honestly, at that point, you can eat basically anything.
One of the most popular dishes in the Philippines, balut is either duck or chicken eggs, but always half-fertilized. As unappealing as half-developed ducklings are, balut is high in protein and also, an aphrodisiac. It’s up to you to decide if that’s all worth it, but if it’s any consolation, the people who’ve tried balut say it tastes much better than it looks.
3. Ox penis
While in Western nations ox penis is dried and sold as dog treats, in the Far East it is a common snack and noted to taste—quite inexplicably—as seafood left a bit too long in the pan. Ox penis can be consumed raw, but it’s generally cooked by steaming or deep-frying. So if you’ve got a taste for overcooked squid, then ox penis is definitely the dish for you!
4. Rocky Mountain oysters
These look like some delicious calamari, right? Well, close. Kind of. Actually, no, “prairie oysters” are made up of buffalo or bull testicles. First they’re flattened and then deep-fried and immediately served. In the areas where they’re common—wherever farming and ranching is prevalent—there are often even festivals commemorating them, like the “World’s Largest Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed” in June, in Eagle, Idaho.
Most popular in Southeast Asia, the durian is supposedly the “King of Fruits.” It’s worth trying not because it’s necessarily going to be great—most people either love it or hate it—but because it’s rare and its “aroma” can be detected from thousands of miles away. And that’s not a good thing in this case. But hey, you can’t turn down something that’s the bloody king, right?
6. Fried bat
Most common in Thailand, fried bat is also particularly popular in Laos and throughout Southeast Asia. Though often served with Thai dipping sauce, the bats are crisp and crunchy, and many people “just rip into the bat and eat it.” Naturally, it tastes pretty much just like chicken.
7. Fried tarantulas
In Cambodia, fried spiders are a popular snack, found most everywhere by women peddling them around on large trays. You can eat them with or without the legs, and even buy them by the “sack,” which, naturally, contains the heart and eggs as well. But it’s all fried, right? Can’t be that bad.
8. Raw herring
Although raw herring isn’t, strictly speaking, “raw,” most people outside of the Netherlands would consider it so. Once caught, the herring is frozen, then laid in salt for a couple days in order to ripen it up. Generally, herring ends up having a smooth texture with a very salty taste. It’s also famous for being a hangover cure, so next time you throw a party, make sure to keep a jar of ‘em stocked for the morning after.
9. Horseshoe crab
Baked horseshoe crab is mostly popular in China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, but at certain shops in Alaska and Cape Cod (and surely others), you can find it as well. The female horseshoe crab is regarded in the East as a delicacy because of the high-protein meat and eggs. The eggs, though similar in appearance to salmon roe, are actually harder and much saltier—not to mention that the whole thing looks eerily similar to the alien in Alien.
10. Kopi luwak
Kopi luwak is one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive types of coffee. Produced predominantly in Indonesia, “civet coffee” is made from the beans of coffee berries consumed by the Asian Palm Civet. Meaning, yes, they pass through the civet’s digestive track before making it into a £50 ($79) cup of coffee. The coffee itself is renowned for its intense, pleasing aroma and flavor as well as a distinct lack of bitterness; so if you can get past that whole this-was-pooped-out-of-an-animal thing, it’s worth trying.