l can’t personally describe rats as being tasty Thai food because I’ve never eaten one, although if pushed, I think I’d give one a nibble. Rats are a delicacy in the north and northeast of Thailand and I’ve often seen them for sale at roadside stalls while speeding past in a car, but I’d never seen them close up until a recent visit to Phon Phisai day market on the banks of the Mekong River.
Eating Rats in Thailand
Let’s start by explaining that the four rats in this picture and those seen at other markets and roadside stalls are not sewer rats or house rats. Sure, they are furry rats, they’ve got long tails and very sharp teeth, but they are mainly field rats caught in the rice and crop fields of rural Thailand. Roadside stall vendors usually sell the rats grilled on a skewer and ready to eat. The ones in the picture above are market ‘fresh’ meat.
Field rats like to mainly feed on young rice shoots and it’s probably because of that food source that rural Thais started eating rats centuries ago. They protected their harvest by culling the rats and in doing so discovered the meat was free, tasty and agreeable.
The rodents can cause a lot of damage to rice crops and farmers lay wooden traps to capture them and if they are lucky they may capture a snake too. Snake is another popular edible meat. The field rats rice shoot diet makes them as healthy as wild western rabbit but if we zoom in a bit closer on my one and only photograph you’ll see there’s not too much meat on them.
They do look cheap and gory laid out for sale, but they aren’t cheap in comparison to other meats. The rats in this picture were 100 baht each, which is not much short of the price of an average size chicken, Pound for pound, rat meat is expensive, but is a popular dish in Thailand’s north and northeastern agricultural regions. The whiskered rodents are mostly served grilled or fried in cooking oil.
Having proofread my post and viewed the pictures I think I’ll give that nibble of rat a miss. How about you, have you ever eaten rat in Thailand, and if so, what does it taste like?
Please leave your point of view on eating rats in Thailand by dropping your thoughts through the sewer grille and into the comment box below.
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