The humble Hot Vit Lon is definitely not a snack for the faint hearted – in saying that it is actually much more delicious than it initially seems. In a country renowned for it’s street food, it often gets overlooked. I admit, it sounds disgusting – a half formed duck fetus boiled inside its unhatched egg – but it’s surprisingly not as bad as it’s description makes out. I’ve had friends several visit Saigon and on the first day I have explained to them how they must try this Vietnamese speciality and all-time favourite snack of many.
Conforming with every other unique, or odd food you can eat in south-east asia, I am often told it is supposed to increase a mans sexual libido. Its also know to be very good for expectant mothers health to occasionally devour the odd ‘Duck Egg’ during their pregnancy.
If you want to eat Hot Vit Lon during daylight hours it is possible, but it’s hard to find a place serving the delicacy till after the sun sets & the closer to midnight it is, usually means the more readily available they are. It’s probably a good thing they are an evening snack because the one thing that made my stomach churn one or twice, was not the idea of it, nor the smell or the initial appearance of the ‘meal’ (it actually presents nicely). Its when you start digging deeper into the egg itself you obviously need to pull out the little spoon, sometimes you actually discover…. well… just a few bits of half formed wings, feathers, small bones and sometimes a soft beak. The younger ducks will tend to have less development obviously so are much more smoother in texture.
For the record, I prefer my duck fetus eggs on the younger side, but its a gamble every time! So, as I mentioned, for an evening snack it is great, the harder it is to see, the less likely you will discover these goodies! 🙂 But also, it’s all part of the experience, right?
But in true local fashion, you never just start pulling parts of your duck & egg out of the shell like a mad man (sorry…’mad person’, these days both sexes must be labelled as mad as each other), but first you must mix it together a little first, so the remainder of the egg and young meat mix together. One part you can’t combine is the semi-hard calcium deposit which sits in the bottom of the egg. This part is optional to eat and to be honest, I’m not a fan as more often than not, its just too dry & chewy!
One more important side note is that very rarely is just one eaten. If you eat three, people will look at you like your a bit odd. It’s more often than not, two eggs. No more, no less. Some of my best memories of travelling Vietnam revolved around trying the eggs, meeting the people you find at the street stalls and the slightly different techniques used to cook and eat them around the country.
There are a few ways to eat Hot Vit Lon: Traditionally & most popular way are boiled eggs with pepper/salt/chilli/lime dipping sauce & a famous herb ‘Rau răm’. It can be removed from its shell, shallow fried and served with tamarind sauce. It’s also eaten braised with pork or can be fried with rice.
So, I’ve had several friends and family visit Saigon since I’ve been here and a few have satisfied their curiosity in the infamous Hot Vit Lon. Unfortunately, a few have returned home with their tails between their legs and excess baggage in the form of the huge regret that will hit them like a tonne of bricks one day. It always left me, slightly dissapointed on the ride back home from the airport, knowing that I failed to convince them to try one of the strangest foods commonly eaten on this planet.