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7 smelly Vietnamese foods that drive foreigners away
By Thanh Nien News -
1. Thang co
 Photo: Le Nam
This hotpot-like food is a specialty of many ethnic communities in the northern highlands. Locals love it and only have it on special occasions such as festivals or gatherings at markets.
Tourists are often recommended to have thang co with corn wine when visiting a highlands market. But not everyone is excited about the experience, as thang co, with innards, bones, fat, and meat from a cow, buffalo or horse as its main ingredients, is not for the faint-hearted.
2. Nam pia
 Photo credit: VietNamNet
Also made from the innards of a cow or goat, nam pia -- a specialty of the ethnic Thai in the northern highlands – has an even more challenging taste and odor than thang co.
The addition of a paste taken from bovine large intestines makes nam pia, which is often served as a sauce, bitter.
3. Nuoc mam
 Photo: Giang Vu
Nuoc mam, or better known as fish sauce among English speakers, is an indispensable part of Vietnamese cuisine. When served as a dipping sauce, nuoc mam is indeed smelly. However, few foreigners mind when it is added during the cooking process.
Thanks to the increased popularity of Vietnamese foods, nuoc mam has won quite many foreign fans over the years.
4. Mam tom
 File photo
Sometimes compared to Australia vegemite, mam tom, or fermented shrimp paste, is a popular dipping sauce served along with rice vermicelli dishes such as the crab and tomato noodle soup,bun rieu cua.
Though the sauce is optional, many Vietnamese prefer to add it to their soups.
5. Mam ca
 Photo: Giang Vu
Fermented fish, or mam ca, is more popular in the Mekong Delta than elsewhere in Vietnam. Locals have invented a variety of fermented fish made from various species including climbing perch and ca linh, a small fish belonging to the same family as the carp.
Because of its pungent smell, kiosks selling the fermented fish can be easily located even in large crowded markets. Unlike fish sauce, the smell refuses to go away even when cooked with foods like hotpots.
6. Mam nem
 File photo
A sauce from fermented fish, mam nem has gained a similar reputation for its pungent smell. It is often mixed with sugar, pineapple and spices to be served as a dipping sauce.
7. Sau rieng
 Photo: Giang Vu
The last thing on this stinky list is not a food but a fruit -- sau rieng, the infamous durian. While its fan population is quite big in Vietnam, it has lots of haters too, including foreigners, who cannot stand its smell.
Since its smell is quite persistent, one needs to think carefully before storing durian in a fridge.

Original Vietnamese story can be found here on