Midnight Remedy: Bat Soup

Bat Soup facts

Where: Bat Soup is popular across far Eastern Asia
Taste: Depends on the final meal of the prisoner – often shrewy
Serving Suggestion: If you can’t stomach raw freshly slaughtered bat, try in a delicious freshly brewed soup
Fact: Celeb hard rocker Ozzy Osbourne once bit the head of a live bat on stage

One of the delicacies of Cambodia is bat soup, extremely popular in the district of Kandal Province. Like many Asian dishes, this particular soup is deemed to have medicinal qualities and is sometimes consumed as a remedy for certain ailments. For example, the presence of bats blood in the soup is said to help respiratory disorders and if you are lucky enough to have eyeballs included, these will help cure any eye problem that you may have.

Serving suggestion

In local restaurants, the soup is prepared for you in much the same manner as a plate of fresh lobster would be prepared at a seafood restaurant on the Mediterranean. The waiter will present you with a cage of live bats from which you can choose the particular screaming furry creature that you would like to eat. Bat can be ordered cooked, in the form of soup, or eaten raw. If you are brave enough to order it raw, the actual preparation of the bat is done right in front of you, including the slaughter and skinning, which may make you wish you knew how to say, “I feel nauseous” in Khmer (try “kh’nyohm jawng k’uat”). If ordered cooked, the chosen bat or two are then taken back to the kitchen, where they are transformed into a delectable soup.

Once you have gotten over the traumatizing concept of exactly what you are eating, bat can be quite tasty! Frequent diners say that each time is a new culinary experience in that the dish will have a strong aroma and flavour influenced by whatever the bats have been eating in advance of their untimely death.

I say waiter, there’s a bat in my soup!

Simply throwing the live bats into a large pot of boiling water starts the soup. Next, some ginger is added accompanied by a large chopped onion with salt and pepper to taste. After three-quarters of an hour or so, the bats are removed and skinned. All the meat, and any other interesting parts, depending on your particular aches and pains of the day, will be removed from the bone and returned to the broth. Once heated through, the soup is poured into bowls and served with sides of onions, soy sauce and coconut cream. Wash this down with some bats blood and rice wine or the locally brewed Angkor beer. Bon Appetite!

More information 

Recipe for Fruit Bat Soup
Now with wings

By Amy Jurries