Raw Pig’s Blood Soup – This Thai Dish Goes Against Everything You Know About Cooking

By Mark Wiens 20 Comments
eating pigs blood
Blood stains from the bowl…

I specifically remember when I was growing up, my mom used to always tell me,

“beef is alright to eat rare, but ALWAYS make sure pork is fully cooked.”

(this came from my mom who is Chinese)

Alright, now let’s proceed…

หลู้
Thai raw pig’s blood soup, known as lou (หลู้)

Many dishes in Thailand are consumed raw, everything from a huge assortments of salads, to ceviche style shrimp cooked in the acid of lime juice, to sok lek, a popular Isaan dish of raw beef.

But there’s another Thai dish, eaten specifically in the north of Thailand, that likely goes against ALL cooking advice you were ever taught…

…the main ingredient: fresh pig’s blood, and not just pig’s blood, RAW pig’s blood.

It’s known in Thai as หลู้ which I’m going to spell as “lou,” it rhymes with “you.”

Warning: I’m not writing this article to really say raw pig’s blood is a Thai dish you should try, because it’s definitely not the safest dish. But I’m writing this article, mostly to explain about it, and to share about it, because it’s a real Thai dish.

Eat raw pig’s blood soup at your own risk!

morning market in Chiang Rai
Buying fresh pork at a morning market in Chiang Rai

Market in Chiang Rai

When I was in Chiang Rai, filming for the Thai food TV show, one day we met up with P’Chan, the owner of a famous northern Thai restaurant in Chiang Rai called Lu Lam (and on a side note, Lu Lam (หลู้ลำ) is a wonderful restaurant to eat at in Chiang Rai when you’re there, and they have a full menu of different dishes, not just lou หลู้).

P’Chan and I first went to the market, and went to his preferred butcher, that he knows personally and frequents.

When you’re dealing with the subject of eating raw pig’s blood, I think it’s good to know your source.

Not only did we buy a big bag of pig’s blood, we also bought some of the pork neck fat, and a nice little kidney (which at the time of purchasing, I had no idea what it was going to be used for!?).

รถด่วน
We searched for wasp larvae, but pictured are bamboo worms (รถด่วน)

Wasp larvae

Along with buying fresh pig’s blood, we also searched for what’s called dua daw (ตัวต่อ) in Thai, wasp larvae, a critter I hadn’t eaten before.

Wasp larvae is a common food in northern Thailand, and it’s only available for a few months of the year, during the main rainy season which lasts from about July – September.

In these months you’ll find lots of wasp larvae in the markets, but not during season it’s almost impossible to find.

eating wasp larvae
A little hand held piece of dua daw (ตัวต่อ), wasp larvae

We’ll come back to the wasp larvae later.

restaurants in Chiang Rai
Relaxing view from Lu Lam restaurant in Chiang Rai

Back to Lu Lam restaurant

After we finished shopping, and purchased all the ingredients we needed, P’Chan and I headed back to Lu Lam (his restaurant) to get started preparing two interesting and exotic northern Thai dishes (or shall I just say, mixing (since no heat was needed!).

eating blood
Ingredients ready to make lou (หลู้), northern Thai blood soup

Lou recipe (หลู้)

I was immediately impressed by just how many spices and ingredients went into the recipe for lou (หลู้) – so many different delicious spices were about to be mixed up.

northern Thai food
Makhwaen (มะแข่วน) – a beautiful spice, one of my favorites in northern Thailand

Makhwaen (มะแข่วน)

One spice that’s quite interesting and commonly used only in northern Thai cuisine, is something called makhwaen (มะแข่วน).

It’s a spice that’s related to Sichuan pepper, and has a bit of heat and a bit of a numbing effect to it. Anyway I love it, and it was about to go into our blood.

raw pig's soup
P’Chan, the owner of Lu Lam restaurant in Chiang Rai, showing me how to make raw pig’s blood soup

P’Chan is not only the owner of Lu Lam and an expert chef, he was an incredibly nice man, and it was a real honor to meet him.

He knew exactly what he was doing when it came to the lou (หลู้) recipe, handling all the steps with ease, and following correct blood handling procedures.

He explained to me that lou (หลู้) is often a men’s dish, one of the northern dishes that men often eat along with shots of Thai liquor – and this is definitely a dish that really needs to be paired with whiskey, to kill the bacteria.

exotic Thai dishes
First step in making lou (หลู้) is to clean the blood

Cleaning the blood

Making lou (หลู้), the first step is to clean the blood.

We bought both lemongrass and Thai holy basil, but P’Chan said that those two famous Thai herbs weren’t actually included in the dish, but were just used to clean the blood.

So the first step was to take slices of lemongrass and holy basil, and P’Chan wrung the blood through the herbs, explaining that they would remove any bad smells and cleanse the blood.

Thai spices
Add a raw egg and spices

Raw egg and spices

After cleansing the blood, it was then time crack in a couple of raw eggs, and then add in all the spices, as well as a shot of condensed milk.

Then came the spices. Chili flakes, makhwaen (which I explained a bit above), cumin (which isn’t commonly used in Thai food), salt, pickled and fried garlic, some kind of a burnt chili sauce, and some condensed milk, all went in.

After mixing all the blood soup together very delicately, P’Chan then topped it with a handful of something like rice cracker noodles, fried kaffir lime leaves, fried chilies, bits of crunchy fried chicken skin, and finally a handful of chopped cilantro and green onions.

eating raw kidney
Raw kidney and neck fat, sliced thinly

Raw blood soup not enough…?

If the raw pig’s blood soup isn’t quite enough for you, you’ll be happy to know that lou (หลู้), in Chiang Rai, is often eaten with slices of raw pig’s kidney and raw pig’s neck fat.

Yum!

bizarre Thai foods
A bite of pig’s blood soup

I’m usually pretty excited about trying anything and everything that I’ve never tried before, no matter how exotic or bizarre sounding, but raw pig’s kidney didn’t actually sound all that appealing to me at first – I have to admit.

But nevertheless, I wanted to give it a shot and a chance.

P’Chan put a slice of slimy looking kidney on my spoon, and then dipped it into the blood soup, for my first bite.

bizarre Thai dishes
How does lou (หลู้) taste?

How does lou (หลู้) taste?

I was shocked when I had my first bite of lou (หลู้).

And I’m talking shocked in a great way… it was honestly delicious.

I could actually not even taste really that it was blood, it really didn’t have a blood or even an irony flavor to it.

The blood had the texture of whole milk (liquid but thick), but it was that spice blend that really made it tasty. The flavor of cumin, the peppery makhwaen (มะแข่วน), the lime zesty of kaffir lime leaf, and the freshness of the cilantro.

It was seriously tasty.

The thin slice of raw kidney could be compared to something like a cloud ear mushroom, tender but kind of rubbery just for the first bite. It was actually quite good.

Wasp larvae chili dip นำ้พริกตัวต่อ
Preparing the ingredients for wasp larvae chili dip (นำ้พริกตัวต่อ)

Wasp larvae chili dip (นำ้พริกตัวต่อ)

Remember the wasp larvae we also purchased at the market?

After finishing the recipe for lou (หลู้), and eating quite a bit of it, it was then time to move onto the next exotic northern Thai food dish we were going to prepare: a chili sauce dip made with wasp larvae, known as nam prik dua daw (นำ้พริกตัวต่อ).

This was a version of nam prik I had never tried before.

The first step was to take green banana peppers, garlic, and shallots, and roast them until slightly blackened, to give the chili sauce a nice smokey flavor.

best northern Thai food
Pounding wasp larvae chili sauce

Next, we pounded the nam prik into a paste, including the chilies, garlic, shallots, fish sauce, and finally a few big handfuls of steamed wasp larvae (ตัวต่อ).

It was basically the same recipe as nam prik noom (a northern Thai chili sauce that kind of reminds me of a Mexican green chili salsa), except with the added wasp larvae ingredient.

นำ้พริกตัวต่อ
nam prik dua daw (นำ้พริกตัวต่อ)

How did it taste?

I have to say that the nam prik dua daw (นำ้พริกตัวต่อ) was excellent.

The pepper and garlic gave it a beautiful smokey flavor, it was slightly spicy, and the addition of the wasp larvae gave the chili dip a real richness and creaminess.

I guess the wasp larvae are basically like little nuggets of fatty cream, and they bumped the nam prik to the next level, making it almost buttery and so creamy – I loved it.

Thai chili dips
I’m a huge fan of Thai chili dips

I loved it so much, I polished off most of the bowl in a few minutes, along with a garden of fresh herbs and vegetables.

Thai raw pig's blood soup
Making and eating lou (หลู้) was a wonderful culinary experience

Conclusion

Lou (หลู้) is a traditional northern Thai dish of raw pig’s blood mixed with spices, and often served with raw pig’s kidney on the side.

P’Chan, the owner of Lu Lam, a wonderful northern Thai restaurant in Chiang Rai, showed me his recipe for this northern delicacy. It was interesting to learn about the many ingredients and the culture of eating lou (หลู้) in Thailand.

And how did it taste? I honesty thought it was delicious – the blend of spices was amazing, and it really didn’t even contain a strong taste of blood. It tastes much better than it may sound!

Want to try some lou (หลู้)?

20 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Vishal

    3 months ago

    Nice article.

  • Wahji Paaji

    3 years ago

    Maasai, a group of ethnic nomadic people basically inhabitant of Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya, holds a strong culture with very few changes seen since decades. Tourist come to witness Maasai lifestyle which is quite different from our lifestyle. So, what is different about them? During festivals, or when someone is sick, they drink raw blood of cow because it is believed that it gives them strength. Also a recent study shows no sign of heart disease or cholesterol was found in Maasai tribe unlike the Americans. Strange isn’t it?

  • Jimmy

    4 years ago

    Great article and great pictures. Love your website and videos. Next time I’m in Thailand I plan on traveling to the north. Do you know if any restaurants in Chiang Mai serve lou? Do you recommend this place in Chiang Rai as relatively safe place to eat lou and other raw dishes?

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Jimmy, good to hear you’ll be going up north next trip to Thailand. I haven’t ever had lou in Chiang Mai, so sorry I can’t personally recommend any place. This place is a good place to try it in Chiang Rai, and I’m not totally sure how safe in general it is to eat, but this would be as safe as possible. They really specialize in it, and serve it very fresh and many people order it here. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Corinne

    5 years ago

    Hey Mark! Just wanted to say kudos for the great article & beautiful photos. I ate raw pig blood soup a few years ago and have been looking for more infos on how it’s prepared and eaten, but nothing came up as good as yours. I had no idea how dangerous it was back then, and I too thought it was delicious!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Corinne, thank you very much, glad you enjoyed this, and so glad to hear you’ve tried it too. Yah, if only it was safer to eat, I would definitely eat it more often, the taste is so good!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Corrine, great to hear from you, awesome that you love this dish too. I only wish it was safer to eat!

  • Jay

    5 years ago

    We have this raw pig blood dish in Vietnam, which is called “Tiet Canh”. Will you make a trip to Saigon to explore food there? I’m sure you will find more interesting dishes.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Jay, I’m actually in Vietnam right now, loving the food. I would love to try some tiet canh, thank you for sharing.

  • Zhang Wan

    5 years ago

    Hey Mark, will be heading to Bangkok for 7 days in December. Definitely interested to head out for Bangkok for a day trip, which place would you highly recommend (I’m into both food and scenic places)? Was thinking of visiting either Ayutthaya or Kanchanaburi. Would love to hear from you which place is an absolute must to visit outside of Bangkok.

    Cheers.

    P.s have been following your Youtube channel; keep those Vlogs and food videos coming!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Zhang, great to hear you’ll be coming to Bangkok. As for day trip, I guess it depends if you like history or nature – Ayutthaya is more history while Kanchanaburi would be more nature oriented. In Kanchanaburi you could visit the Erawan Waterfall, but it would be quick to do in 1 day, whereas Ayutthaya you could easily visit in 1 day. Hope this helps.

  • Nash

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark your treading on Bizarre Foods turf now, I will now comment but will say you are the man.

    On another note since you have visited India, have you visited Mumbai, it is apparently the Street food capital of the world, feeding 20 Million people per day, check out the video from Travel channel below.
    Maybe on your next trip to India you visit Mumbai.

    https://screen.yahoo.com/travel-channel/indias-street-eats-140625440.html

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Nash, thank you, I was a bit nervous to try this one, but I really loved the flavor of it – I wish there wasn’t such a risk of eating it, as tastes so good. I haven’t been to Mumbai yet, but I would really love to. Thanks for sharing the video, will check it out. Have you been there?

  • De’Jav

    5 years ago

    Good on ya for trying to local dishes. You definitely went above and beyond. What’s next on the menu?

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks De’Jav. Next up is grilled pig’s brain wrapped in banana leaf!

      • Gerald

        5 years ago

        I gave tasted pig brains soup but Grilled pig’s brain….? Can’t wait to see how it looks like!

        • Mark Wiens

          5 years ago

          Hey Gerald, I’ll be posting about that soon. It was pretty good!