There are some 'comfort food' that might bring back warm memories of childhood and brighten up your mood instantly. And there are some which might hit you with a wave of cultural shock. Letting out a fair warning, this belongs to the second category. Definitely not for the weak hearted.Respecting everyone's food choice, here is a list of some unusual food from Asia,
1. Turtle jelly
One of China's favourite summertime desserts also believed to reduce internal heat and give you a smooth skin, turtle jelly is made by boiling powdered turtle shell with herbs and letting it evaporate. Turtle, yes.
2. Fish sperm
Also known as Shirako in Japan, it essentially is a cod’s sperm. Known to have a super soft and rich creamy texture, it is quite a celebrated delicacy in Japan. It is generally served steamed or deep fried.
3. Live octopus tentacles
To be fair, they are not 'alive'. But they aren't fully cooked either. It is cooked in such a way that the limbs are alive and kicking and squiggly just before you are about to eat it. They are put to rest only after the sauce is poured over the dish.
4. Raw horse meat
After a round of using raw fish for sushi in Japan, it was time to give raw horse meat a try! Cherry blossom meat or raw horse meat is served either on its own or as a part of sushi. It’s said to be low in calories and low in fat. For all the right health reasons and otherwise, will you give it a try?
5. Chicken testicles
Being a unique dish in itself, chicken testicles make an appearance in almost all Hong Kong foodlets. The testicles are boiled or fried to reach a perfect soft interior and are served with rice, or noodles and broth.
6. A sea urchin's pulsating gonads
It is impossible to imagine eating a ball full of thorns. But if you're in the mood for some tasty urchin nuts, just break it open and gulp the gonads down. Oh yes, with the urchin very much alive, this is a dish that will squirm its way right down your goddamned throat.
7. Century eggs - Eggs preserved and buried in a clay mix
Eggs of duck, quail or chicken are preserved in a clay mixture for months together until the yolk turns black. This mixture is meant to add flavor to the egg white which loses its colour over time.
8. Bee larvae
Known for a fine texture and extremely high nutritional value, this is eaten quite often in Japan. A high protein source and a favourite among the locals, this makes for a thoughtful try!
9. Habu sake - Snake in a wine bottle
Japanese winemakers release snakes in bottles of wine and let them release their venoms in the wine bottle. This special drink which is created from this technique is said to enhance male libido. Wonder who thought of it first!
10. Wasp crackers
Like I prefer choco chips in my crackers, people in Japan prefer wasps in theirs. Apparently the digger wasp, which the biscuit contains, has a pretty mean sting. Good luck, dearest tongue!
11. Shark fin soup
Quite a controversial dish given the environmental concerns, the soup itself is mostly prized for its premium price tag and is a must-have on wedding and graduation dinner menus. Save the sharks maybe someone?
Cambodians from Skuon are said to have begun eating tarantulas during their years of food shortage. Even as shortage was made up for, tarantulas didn't leave the menu card. Being crispy on the outside with white meat in the head and body, tasting almost like chicken or cod, this is a hot favourite among Cambodians.
13. Cobra heart
If you think drinking raw hearts of animals were a part of fancy fiction only, it is true people in Vietnam eat cobra heart and drink its blood. It started off as a ritual. If or not you have the heart to eat the heart, you decide!
14. Drunken shrimp
If you think they are shrimps cooked in some liquor, you're dead wrong. These shrimps are thrown in a bowl of strong liquor where they swim languidly. The alcohol slows down the movement of the shrimp. You can then pop the wriggling body down your throat. If this is not crazy, what is?
15. Poisonous Putterfish
One of the most notorious dishes of Japan, Fugu can be lethal. It demands a careful and experienced removal of toxic parts. The restaurant preparation of fugu is strictly controlled by law in Japan, and only chefs who have qualified after three or more years of rigorous training are allowed to prepare the fish.
16. Balut - fertilized duck or chicken egg
Baluts are half-fertilized eggs, where, instead of finding the yolk, you find partially developed fetus of a duck or chicken. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac. In certain cases, there is death before life, yes.
17. White Ant's Egg
White ant's egg is generally consumed as a quick snack by people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. There is also a version of white ant eggs soup, a mixture of eggs, partial embryos and baby ants. Complex formula indeed!
18. Ying yang fish - Half dead and half alive fish
A speciality from Taiwan, it is a deep fried fish with its head still twitching while being fried. Cruel and crazy, this is a dish going extinct for all the right reasons.
19. Bird's nest soup - Chicken broth + Bird's saliva
Famous for its health benefits, Bird's Nest Soup is a gelatinous mix of chicken broth and the swiftlet (bird) saliva. Swiftlets make their nest out of salivas and after they leave the nest, it becomes an ingredient for the soup. Bird's spit it is!
20. Tuna Eyeballs
Not for the weak hearted, tuna eyeballs stare at you, with the fat surrounding its circumference, boiled, seasoned and ready to be eaten.
21. A monkey's brain when it's alive
The monkey is forcibly pulled to the dining table and held with hoops over its hands and legs. A hammer is then used to knock on the monkey's head for it to crack open, after which, an iron rod is put through it and the monkey's brain is extracted and served while the monkey literally screams to death. Let us just not talk about it anymore.
22. Human foetus
According to this report in The Seoul Times, the Chinese eat babies in a special soup to improve their health, stamina and sexual performance. It is a delicacy in which expensive herbs are added to boil the baby with chicken meat for eight hours. The dish is very expensive (around 3 lakhs in INR) and for people who cannot afford so much, placentas come as a cheap substitute. So much for sexual powers and health!
Most of them are just food choices we did not grow up with maybe, but unusual nevertheless. Let us know which one caught your fancy.
Good luck getting over the last two.