Are you an adventurous traveller? Does downing worms and other creepy crawlies get your skin tingly and all excited?
Now here’s your next challenge – in Bali.
Don’t worry, you aren’t going to consume any local roach species, but simply some of the weirdest dishes and bizarre food you can find. It’s that rite of passage. You can’t say you’ve truly been to Bali if you haven’t tried any of these before.
1. Exotic Balinese Salad – Lawar Merah
The word for this iconic dish literally means ‘thinly sliced’ in Balinese.
It’s basically the Balinese version of coleslaw, but instead of cabbage and carrots you throw in tropical ingredients, such as young unripe jackfruit, coconut, string beans spiced with shrimp paste, turmeric, galangal, and other exotic spices.
You can find various versions of the dish pretty much everywhere in Bali, from the humble roadside shacks to the fancy fine dining restaurants (one of the most popular would be Warung Lawar Kartika at Jl.Bypass Ngurah Rai, Sanur).
So what’s so bizarre about it?
Another key ingredients used in lawar is raw pig’s blood – that’s how the dish got its reddish colour.
So the next time someone asks you: “Bani ngajeng lawar?” (Are you brave enough to eat lawar?), you know what you’re getting into.2. Crunchy Bee Larvae Salad – Lawar Nyawan
In another twist to the Balinese salad, instead of pig’s blood, this one uses bee larvae.
The crunchy larvae is extracted from the honeycomb by boiling the hive, and the usual lawar spices and young unripe papaya are then added to the mixture, resulting in a spicy sweet light crunchy salad.
Beehives are not commonly found in the produce market and are getting increasingly difficult to source for. The result? The surprisingly tasty dish has thus become a rare delicacy.
If you need some recommendations, Warung Dita in Jl.Ahmad Yani, Denpasar is probably one of the very few restaurants that still feature Lawar Nyawan on their menu.
And do you know, eating the larvae is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure too?
3. Deep Fried Chicken Feet – Keripik Ceker
Keripik means chips and ceker means chicken feet.
What? Yep, another bizarre food. But who knew chicken feet can be such a tasty treat? And mind you, it doesn’t come cheap too.
One bag of this crunchy stuff can cost up to IDR 90,000 (that’s almost US$ 10). You can find cheaper ones of course, that may also mean exposing yourself to all sorts of health risks, as feet are not exactly the cleanest part of a chicken’s body.
Considering that they are also byproducts of the poultry industry, it’s highly likely they’re not handled with the utmost care as well.
Its taste is actually a bit of an anticlimax – deep frying the chicken feet to a crisp means the original taste is already lost, though of course, it’s still delicious.
Eager to try? You can easily find them in shops around Bali, including the Balinese one-stop-shopping megastore Krisna.
4. Unique food only during Ramadhan – Sate Susu
Sate or satay is a word used to describe any food item prepared and served with a skewer.
Susu means milk. So does satay susu mean skewered milk?
Not really. It’s actually skewered cow udders.
At a glance, it may look like any other satay made from white meat, but you’ll recognise this by its chewy texture. Considered a delicacy, Sate Susu can only be found during the holy month of Ramadhan.
As most Balinese are Hindus, this is actually a dish commonly eaten by migrant Javanese living in an area aptly called Kampung Jawa (Javanese Village), in Desa Wanasari, Denpasar. It’s probably one of the best places you can find this unique satay, apart from seasonal bazaars around Bali. Do look out for them at the food market along Jalan Ahmad Yani (near Baiturrahmah Mosque, opens from 4pm to around 6.15pm), and be fast to grab them as it will all be snatched up before they break the fast!