Various cultures have indulged in the practice of meat consumption since the discovery of fire. Domestication of animals means that generally someone will have to slaughter the beasts in order to get them to the dinner table. Throughout much of history and most of the time today, the future roast meets its maker via the blade- a singular slice severs carotid arteries, jugular vein and trachea. Naturally, such a process releases a lot of blood quite rapidly and the beast dies quickly.
But what to do with all of that blood?
Various cultures have had opinions of what to do with this unsightly by-product of critter consumption. Jews, Muslims, and many others do not consume it at all, with prohibition written into the annals of history. Many European and South American societies hide blood inside sausage casings or stews. In China, congealed blood becomes a form of tofu, which is cubed and cooked to be served with noodles. The element common to all of the dishes is that the blood is cooked, thus preventing various diseases including the tapeworm that afflicted raw food connoisseuse Maria Callas.
One rare exception to the raw blood taboo comes from Vietnam. This is Tiết Canh , or Raw Blood Soup. It is the protein-rich controversial breakfast of country folks. Composed of goose, duck, or even pig blood left to congeal in the cold, it is often served with alcoholic beverages (I cannot figure out why.) and comes with the added fun of a little risk. With the possibility of H5N1, tapeworm, and heavy metal poisoning Tiết Canh offers excitement for those with open minds. Sometimes it is served very cold, so as to allow it to congeal with herbs on top like a pizza.
Because of Avian Flu, the Vietnamese government is considering banning the dish. However, locals and immigrants will likely just continue to quietly making and consuming their funky blend of plasma with 11 herbs and spices. And since I know that you are just dying to try some for yourself, I've decided to include a very real recipe for the Soup That Eats Like A Mule.
Tiết Canh (recipe courtesy of xuvn)
- Obtain fresh, healthy livestock. Pigs (in order to make tiết canh heo) and ducks (for tiết canh vit) are the most common choices.
- Slit the animal's throat and drain the blood into a cup or bowl.
- Place cups into a freezer and let them sit for twenty-four hours
- Remove the bowls and let the blood thaw.
- For garnish, add chopped peanuts to the top of your semi-congealed meal
- Drink with beer.