By Jane Yuen
Dinner is served, and sea cucumber is the main course. You’re probably not thinking, “Mmm, delicious!” because, at least on first sight, this reddish, slug-like sea creature just does not look appetizing. However, it is a popular dish in Chinese cuisine. Asia is where you can find some of the most exotic foods in the world, ranging from deep fried grasshoppers to Indonesian bats.
Here is the top ten list of exotic foods that Asians eat:
Deep fried grasshoppers
At the heart of Bangkok’s streets, vendors sell what is known as deep fried grasshoppers. These crunchy insects range from caterpillars to hornets and ants. Whatever crawls or hops in Thailand might end up in the hands of hungry people, waiting to take a bite.
This boiled, fertilized duck embryo is quite crunchy and comes with a pleasant surprise in the middle: a partially formed fetus, accompanied with feathers, eyeballs, and a translucent skin. This strange egg can be found in the streets in Manila, where locals dip it in soy sauce and vinegar.
This dish is widely popular in southern China, mostly in the Guandong and Sichuan area, where dog meat is served in restaurants during the winter time. There are even places dedicated to only selling dog meat platters. There are also places in Beijing that advertise dog meat.
Even though there are not many left in the world today, the Chinese believe that turtles are excellent for health and like to cook it in thick herbal soups. Modern Singaporeans love the thick texture and enjoy the herbal flavor.
This well known dish is usually found at dim sum restaurants, where the chicken feet are served in a traditional style bamboo steamers. They are steamed until the skin becomes tender and the cartilage is chewy. They are infused with black bean sauce to provide a pleasant taste.
Rooster testicles are usually eaten by themselves, simple and plain. However, some ask for peppers and garlic to accompany it. With a plump texture and veins still intact, this dish is only suitable for daredevils. The interior has a soft tofu flavor and the skin is as tight as a sausage. It can be found in Taipei’s famous Snake Alley Market.
Chau Taufu or Stinky Tofu
This dish is stinky and can be smelled from miles away. Chau Taufu is fermented bean curd with an overwhelming stench. Despite the odor, locals love to take a bite out of this snack.
Barbecued chicken intestines, as well as other chicken organs, such as gizzards, liver, and heart, are national dishes in the Philippines and very popular among locals. Grilled on bamboo skewers, they are drizzled in sweet and spicy sauce and beautifully cooked.
This pungent smelling fruit has a prickly and spiky exterior. Its soft yellow interior is quite popular among Southeast Asians and has earned the crown of Southeast Asian fruits.
Smoked until crispy, these brown creatures are served in the Malioboro Street of Jakarta in Indonesia. It has a taste similar to beef jerky.
Locals love eating it, especially in fruit bat soup, where the bat is cooked in coconut milk. The meat on its feet and wings are especially savored.
Strange isn’t always a bad thing, and Asia is a place that has much to offer. Try something new, and who knows, maybe you’ll like it. (end)
Editor’s note: This story was written by a Summer Youth Leadership Program student, not a Northwest Asian Weekly staff member.