Fresh Duck Blood Salad

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Laotian chefs with a penchant for fresh duck blood salad likely grew up in households that kept livestock. When the family decided on duck for dinner, nothing was wasted. Even the animal's blood provided a nutritious, savory ingredient. They collected a generous pool of fresh blood, seasoned it with fish sauce, and added minced meat, fresh mint, fried shallots, chilis, green onions, and roasted peanuts. Today, locals and visitors alike enjoy this Laotian specialty that's full of pleasantly contrasting textures and rich flavors.

To prepare the dish, cooks often drain the warm blood directly from the bird, stirring constantly to prevent coagulation. The untrained eye might mistake the resulting sanguine pool of liquid, mixed with oily, minced duck and fresh herbs, for a particularly crimson-hued chili oil. In reality, this salad dressing is composed mostly of diluted blood. Diners squeeze a hit of lime over top, then dig into the fragrant, rich, herbal medley. Despite what anyone who decided to lick their own skinned knee as a child might assume, tasters says the blood-based dish is surprisingly devoid of ferric flavor.