Remember as kids when we used to have those conversations about the weirdest things we ever ate? Without a doubt, there would always be someone who mentions snake blood or monkey brains.
The weirdest thing I have ever eaten, aside from Vegemite, is Balut, a rather common food in South East Asia, which is basically late stage chicken, or duck eggs where the embryo is almost fully developed. Naturally, this is an after dark snack as they can look quite creapy.
Now to dispel an urban legend, one dish I constantly hear about in Japan is called Dojō-Tofu which is a dish based around the pond loach, a fresh water bottom feeder that looks not dissimilar to a small eel.
Rumour has it that some restaurants serve this fish in a rather unique way.
A claypot is filled with hot soup (dashi) made from dried bonito flakes, and in the soup is placed cold cubes of white tofu. Live Dojō fish are then placed in the claypot and to escape the heat of the soup, they quickly swim into to soft white tofu cubes. The tofu becomes their last resting place and soon they perish. The fish infused tofu is then eaten with complete disregard to the sadistic events that just occurred.
I am not a huge fan of the Dojō fish, but I have been to a couple of famous Tokyo restaurants that serve Dojo-nabe, a real claypot dish, but where the fish are slaughtered humanely before reaching the claypot. I did ask the restaurant staff if they knew of Dojō-Tofu, and they quickly responded “Uso Uso” which means “Lies, Lies”. Needless to say, I would love to hear from anyone who has experienced this dish.
Japan does have a fair share of weird. Quite popular is the tiny isaza fish, almost transparent aside from the many black spots that cover their tiny bodies. These are usually eaten live, but you need to be pretty deft with a pair of chopsticks to nail the slithery suckers.
What are the weirdest foods you have ever experienced? With such a diverse audience from all corners of the world, we might be able to drum up a pretty mean list.
Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment