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Weirdest things I've eaten in China

Do you have that one meal that's always your 'go to' and you've had it so many times, you got tired of it and had to find a new 'safe meal'? I was a picky eater before going to China. My friends and family were worried I won't be able to find something to eat and I would struggle there. I didn't like rice (at all!) and I was going to the top rice consumer country. I was so picky I didn't like most of beans, legumes and vegetables. I would've never bought a salad, anything green was a big NO for me. I used to pile the food I didn't like into a corner of my plate, always cut the crust off my sandwiches, I went that far I sometimes claimed I'm allergic to corn so my friends won't order it as a pizza topping. My food orders were always complicated (take out that, add that) and apart from sparkling water I didn't drink anything else. Most importantly, nothing spicy! Not even a bit, black pepper was already too much for me. The only Chinese dish I tried before moving to China was sweet and sour pork with fried noodles. Now imagine someone like me going to China. Awful, right? :))

 

I always try new things, I never say no, but I rarely end up actually liking it. My first months in China I ate the same thing over and over again. After trying a lot of different dishes, I settled for chicken burgers with french fries, fried noodles with mushrooms, a mix of octopus, eggs and potatoes, fried squid and McDonald's. I even refused to struggle eating with chopsticks. I had a fork and some salt with me everywhere I went.

 

It took me a while to actually fall in love with Chinese food but now I crave for it at least once a week. Here are some of the best and some of the weirdest things I ate in China:

1. Insects

 

Yes, it sounds and looks awful, but it's not such a big deal. I watched reality-shows and used to think it's horrible to have to try that. They make it look like that's the worst thing someone could eat when in reality I had worse. Salmon or blue cheese for example.

The street food vendors in China cook the insects in boiling oil until they get crispy then skewer them on a stick. You can buy everything from scorpions, silk worms, baby seahorses, grass hoppers, crickets, bees, snakes, wasps, caterpillars, moths to cockroaches and spiders. Basically everything that crawls is put on a stick and served as a snack and can be bought at every night market all over China.

I only tried baby scorpions, caterpillars, silk worms, cockroaches and grass hoppers. Some taste similar to lobster, some are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, some are juicy, some are stiff and some taste like meat. Are not the most delicious thing I've tried but definitely the weirdest. 

 

Rating: 

- presentation 4/10

- taste 6/10

- smell 9/10

- texture 7/10



2. Hot Pot ( huoguo 火锅 )

 

This is probably the best thing I've tried and one of the most popular meals in China. Hot pot is prepared in a shared simmering pot separated in 2 parts filled with broth. Traditionally, one part is clear, the other one is spicy and once the broth is boiling you can dip inside raw ingredients such as meat slices, meatballs, seafood, root vegetables (yam, radish, lotus,potatoes etc.), all kinds of mushrooms, tofu, green leafy vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc) and noodles. All these are served with a big variety of dipping sauces. It's not only delicious, is also an easy way to share and cook a meal with friends or family. There are so many choices when it comes to ingredients and some of them require a specific time of boiling. Better ask the waitress for help, she will gladly cook them for you. 

If you are a bit brave you can try some of the less common ingredients. I tried duck blood, pork brain, dry pig skin, beef tripe, beef intestines and chicken feet. I had my doubts but I'm telling you, everything is incredibly delicious! 

 

Rating:

- presentation 9/10

- taste 10/10

- smell 10/10

- texture depends



3. Stinky Tofu ( choudoufu 臭豆腐)

 

Chinese eat a lot of tofu. This one in particular is a deep fried fermented tofu with a super strong smell which is very popular in China. Can be bought from a roadside stand or street food cart. You can smell it half a block before you see it and makes you wonder what died on the street. How to describe the smell ... imagine a pile of rotten eggs, vomit and damp socks worn for a month and is still not as bad as stinky tofu! Why would someone even cook that? The smell is bad enough, how could you want to eat it? Weirdly enough, people are crazy about it and I started wondering. What if it's actually the most delicious thing I ever tried? So I did it. God, what a bad idea!  I immediately spit it back, I don't know what I imagined it would taste like but tastes exactly how it smells. Awful! That's something I won't try ever again.

 

Rating:

- presentation 6/10

- taste 1/10

- smell 1/10

- texture 7/10


4. Preserved Eggs ( pidan 皮蛋 )

 

Also know as ''hundred-year-old eggs'' or ''thousand-year old eggs'' they are a Chinese delicacy. How do they make these eggs? Mix tea, quicklime, baking soda, salt, ash and water to create a paste. Raw eggs are then covered in this mud-paste, rolled in rice husk and left for fermentation at least 20 days to form a chemical reaction which turns the eggs into gel and keeps the egg yolk soft. When they are ready to be served, the whites have a blackish-brown and translucent color and the yolks are green, they really look like 100 years old eggs. Can be consumed even months after and they're highly nutritious. First time I tried I instantly fell in love with these eggs. Nobody would eat knowing what it is, but I convinced many of my friends to eat and everyone liked it. Trust me, you want to try this!

 

Rating:

- presentation 6/10

- taste 10/10

- smell 7/10

- texture 9/10


5. Turtle

 

Where I come from, turtles and tortoises are pets that can be found only in pet stops. Nobody would ever think to eat them. Unlike other places, in China you can buy turtles straight from supermarkets and cook them. Live turtles in big aquariums next to fish or crabs aquariums isn't something uncommon there. I would've never tried (out of principle) but I attended a Chinese wedding and people insisted on me. I understood then how annoying I am when I force others to try new things and I had the same reaction most of them have. I was amazed! The turtle is cooked until the shell is almost dissolved and same like alligator meat, it has a slightly chicken flavor. Others say it tastes like beef, maybe different types don't taste the same. I tried it in a soup and it was incredibly delicious. Honestly, I didn't expect to be one of the best things I've ever eaten and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Highly recommend it !

 

Rating:

- presentation 8/10

- taste 10/10

- smell 9/10

 

- texture 10/10


Write a comment

Comments: 3
  • #1

    Eric Johnson (Tuesday, 26 May 2020 23:33)

    Very interesting post. I would probably try most of those. The bugs on a stick, I don’t know lol. Might have to draw the line there.

  • #2

    Candice (Saturday, 24 October 2020 06:58)

    Hhh how brave you are! I’m a Chinese girl but I have never try insects....I couldn’t see myself doing that�

  • #3

    赖克宝 (Friday, 20 November 2020 07:06)

    我也很翔尝试一下