Sannakji, the living octopus from South Korea, provides an exciting culinary experience with its moving tentacles.

Sannakji, the living octopus from South Korea, provides an exciting culinary experience with its moving tentacles.
© Shutterstock

These are the most unusual delicacies in the world

Seafood
Food & Beverage

Caution: Not for the faint-hearted! These culinary specialities from all over the world are so extraordinary that they require both a sense of adventure and strong nerves.

Hákarl (Iceland)

Hákarl, fermented shark, is a traditional Icelandic dish that has its origins in the need to preserve food. The Greenland shark is first fermented for several months and then dried. The taste is intense and is reminiscent of a mixture of very strong cheese and ammonia. For many Icelanders, Hákarl is a symbol of their resilience and their unique culture. This delicacy is often accompanied by Brennivín, an Icelandic schnapps that softens the strong flavour.

Hákarl, fermented shark from Iceland, is considered a traditional delicacy with a strong flavor. Eating it is often accompanied by a sip of Brennivín.
© Shutterstock
Hákarl, fermented shark from Iceland, is considered a traditional delicacy with a strong flavor. Eating it is often accompanied by a sip of Brennivín.

Balut (Philippines)

Balut, a fertilised duck egg that is cooked and eaten straight from the shell, offers an extraordinary textural experience. The firm yolk and developing embryo take some getting used to, but in the Philippines balut is a popular snack, rich in protein and energy. Seasoned with salt and vinegar, balut is often sold at street markets and is particularly popular at night-time celebrations. The first bite may take some effort, but balut fans swear by its nutritional value and special taste.

Balut, a fertilized duck egg, is a popular Filipino street snack. It offers an exceptional texture experience with a firm yolk and embryo.
© Shutterstock
Balut, a fertilized duck egg, is a popular Filipino street snack. It offers an exceptional texture experience with a firm yolk and embryo.

Casu Marzu (Italy)

Casu Marzu, a Sardinian sheep's milk cheese, is softened by the digestive process of cheese fly larvae. The larvae ferment the cheese and give it a soft, almost liquid texture. Despite its controversial reputation, casu marzu is prized as a special delicacy in Sardinia. The taste is intense and spicy, often with a slightly burning aftertaste. Traditionally, this cheese is enjoyed with Sardinian bread and a strong red wine.

Casu Marzu, the Sardinian cheese with live larvae, is known for its intense and spicy flavor. A real challenge for the palate.
© Shutterstock
Casu Marzu, the Sardinian cheese with live larvae, is known for its intense and spicy flavor. A real challenge for the palate.

Sannakji (South Korea)

Sannakji consists of raw, live octopus, which is cut into small pieces and served immediately. The tentacles still move when eaten, which offers a special eating experience. This vibrant delicacy is often served with sesame oil and sesame seeds, which gives it a nutty note. The feeling of the writhing tentacles in the mouth is a highlight of the culinary adventure for many.

Sannakji, living octopus cut into pieces, still moves when eaten. An exciting culinary experience in South Korea.
© Shutterstock
Sannakji, living octopus cut into pieces, still moves when eaten. An exciting culinary experience in South Korea.

Durian (Southeast Asia)

Durian, also known as the king of fruits, is notorious for its intense odour, which is often compared to rotten onions or sewage. But the taste of the pulp is a completely different story - sweet, creamy and a real treat for many. In many Southeast Asian countries, durian is a prized delicacy that is used in numerous desserts and dishes. Despite the unpleasant smell in public transport and hotels, which often prohibit its consumption, lovers swear by the incomparable taste and health benefits of this extraordinary fruit.

Durian, the king of fruits, is notorious for its intense smell, but the flesh is sweet and creamy. Lovers swear by its unique taste.
© Shutterstock
Durian, the king of fruits, is notorious for its intense smell, but the flesh is sweet and creamy. Lovers swear by its unique taste.

Surströmming (Sweden)

Surströmming, fermented herring, is a Swedish dish known for its extremely strong smell. Often described as one of the most foul-smelling foods in the world, surströmming is traditionally served with crispbread, potatoes and onions. Despite the off-putting smell, this delicacy has a loyal following. For many Swedes, the salty and sour taste is an important part of their culinary tradition.

Surströmming, fermented herring from Sweden, is known for its extremely strong odor. Despite the smell, it is a prized delicacy.
© Shutterstock
Surströmming, fermented herring from Sweden, is known for its extremely strong odor. Despite the smell, it is a prized delicacy.

Escamoles (Mexico)

Escamoles, also known as insect caviar, are the larvae of the black mercenary ant and are considered a delicacy in Mexico. With a nutty, buttery texture, they are often served in tacos or omelettes. Escamoles are particularly popular in upmarket restaurants and offer a unique taste experience. Their crunchy bite and rich, nutty flavour make them a favourite among gourmets.

Escamoles, also known as insect caviar, are ant larvae with a nutty flavor. An exceptional ingredient in sophisticated Mexican cuisine.
© Shutterstock
Escamoles, also known as insect caviar, are ant larvae with a nutty flavor. An exceptional ingredient in sophisticated Mexican cuisine.

Fugu (Japan)

Fugu, the pufferfish whose organs contain deadly tetrodotoxin, is a much sought-after delicacy in Japan. Only specially trained chefs are allowed to prepare fugu to ensure that no poisonous parts are served. The thrill and exclusivity make Fugu a special experience. The taste of the fish is mild and light, and it is often served in thin slices as sashimi.

Fugu, the poisonous puffer fish, is a coveted delicacy in Japan. Only specially trained chefs are allowed to prepare this fish.
© Shutterstock
Fugu, the poisonous puffer fish, is a coveted delicacy in Japan. Only specially trained chefs are allowed to prepare this fish.

Huitlacoche (Mexico)

Huitlacoche, also known as corn truffle, is a fungus that infects corn and makes it black and spongy. In Mexico, huitlacoche is prized as a delicacy and is used in tacos, quesadillas and soups. Its earthy, smoky flavour makes it a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Huitlacoche is often considered a kind of gourmet ingredient and can be found in many upmarket restaurants.

Huitlacoche, also known as corn truffle, is a mushroom that infects corn and gives it an earthy, smoky flavor. A gourmet ingredient in Mexican cuisine.
© Shutterstock
Huitlacoche, also known as corn truffle, is a mushroom that infects corn and gives it an earthy, smoky flavor. A gourmet ingredient in Mexican cuisine.

Shiokara (Japan)

Shiokara is a Japanese delicacy consisting of fermented offal from seafood, often squid. It is fermented with a mixture of salt and malt rice and has an intense, salty taste. Shiokara is often enjoyed as a small snack or accompaniment to alcoholic drinks and is known for its strong, distinctive flavour.

Shiokara, fermented seafood offal, has an intense, salty flavor. A small but hearty snack to accompany alcoholic drinks.
© Shutterstock
Shiokara, fermented seafood offal, has an intense, salty flavor. A small but hearty snack to accompany alcoholic drinks.

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Maximilian Tröstl
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