Failing to read the menu properly can certainly get you into a sticky situation…
Blood Jelly was one of the original delicacies I had investigated for my Vietnam List, but had somehow lucked (or chickened) out of trying.
So, when I ordered the Spicy Pork Noodle Soup from one of my favourite Vietnamese haunts, Dong Ba on Hopkins st Footscray, I thought nothing of it.
When the large bowls arrived, I was greeted with the familiar aroma of spicy, heady noodle soup, complete with lumps of various pork cuts, all simmering in oily, chilli and hearty stock goodness… delicious!
However, floating in amongst the mountain of noodles, herbs and animal product was a dark brown/red perfectly rectangular lump.
A jelly like lump.
At first I exclaimed “It must be liver, It looks like liver!” then decided “when in Saigon” and dove right in, breaking a piece off with my chop stick…
I’m not usually one to be a hypocrite and scoff at something I had not tried before, however I must admit I’ve consciously avoided anything with “Blood Jelly” in the past. I think that somehow my previous reasoning has made me steer clear on the pretence that “I don’t know how it’s prepared” when really I’ve just been too much of a wuss to order it.
I’m going to have to admit that it is exceptionally hypocritical to apply this excuse when I usually order my steak “blue”…
Anyway, it took a couple of bites before I realised what it was… it wasn’t liver
Quite hearty, with a firm texture and a clear taste of iron, you can tell the jelly is rich in minerals, but I will admit the flavour isn’t something I’ll be recommending to friends and family. Especially as I’m not a huge fan of liver and there are striking similarities between the two.
The Spicy Pork Noodle Soup is clearly the most popular lunchtime menu item at Dong Ba, and the majority of the local Viet-Melburnians in the restaurant were ordering it, which is why I followed suit. I have to admit it’s fantastically delicious and nothing ventured nothing gained!