If you’ve grown tired of choosing the same dishes off restaurant menus, why not spice things up by putting your taste buds to the test with some unusual cuisine? Eateries across the world serve a wide range of strange and bizarre food, so eating any of these weird dishes could prove a shock to the senses and reinvigorate your palette.
It may sound obvious, but the vast majority of seafood that people eat is dead. But this isn’t the case with sannakji. This Korean dish consists of a nakji octopus cut into pieces and served straight out of the kitchen. The creature is still alive and can often be seen squirming on the plate.
Typically seasoned with sesame oil, the sannakji should be chewed thoroughly before swallowing, as the suction cups on the octopus’ arms are still active and can represent a choking hazard. This dish can be found in numerous seafood restaurants in Seoul.
Flickr photo by tomcensani
Fugu is the Japanese term for pufferfish, a fish that swells up into a spherical shape as a defence mechanism, fugu can be baked or fried. However, the most popular way of serving it is sashimi – where it is sliced extremely thinly and served raw along with separate bowls of miso soup and rice.
Regardless of how you choose to eat it, it’s best to eat fugu at a restaurant as opposed to trying to prepare it at home. This is because parts of the fish contain tetrodotoxin, a toxin that can be potentially fatal, with the preparation of the dish strictly controlled by the law in Japan. Only those chefs who have undergone training are allowed to prepare it, so it’s a good idea to eat this dish at reputable establishments.
Fugu is the only food that the country’s emperor is not allowed to eat as it is thought to be too risky. But for the daredevils, it could be an exciting and thrilling experience!
Flickr image by Jim
Frogs’ legs are a well-known element of French cuisine, but have you ever considered eating the whole creature? This is certainly the case in Namibia, with the consumption of an entire giant bullfrog considered some sort of a delicacy.
Although most of its toxic organs are not eaten, the fact that giant bullfrogs have poisonous skin means that they can still be dangerous to eat. They are therefore typically not harvested until after the rainy season as the creature’s toxin levels usually mellow out at this time.
However, if you eat it before the season or inadvertently sample the wrong parts you may experience oshiketakata, a temporary kidney failure that will require immediate medical attention, so ensure that you only go to a trustworthy restaurant for this dish.
Flickr photo by avlxyz
Donkey and sheep genitalia
Alternatively, you may want to consider visiting Guo Li Zhuang for some truly bizarre cuisine. This Chinese company has several restaurants in Beijing, China, which specialise in dishes prepared from the genitalia of a range of male animals, including donkey, ox, water-buffalo and sheep.
Many of the dishes on the menu are given poetic names, such as The Essence of the Golden Buddha and Phoenix Rising. The Chinese believe that consumption of such body parts will help with a number of medical ailments.
Ox penis – Flickr photo by pinguino
In many countries, they are viewed as a humble household pet, but in Peru the guinea pig is somewhat of a national delicacy. Especially popular in the Andean region of the South American country, the animal is roasted and served in a dish known as cuy chactado.
The creatures are grown to a larger size than their household pet cousins and can form a main meal in their own right although most of the time, they’re also featured in the pachamanca. This banquet of meats, which can also include beef, pork, vegetables and herbs, is cooked underground on a bed of heated stones. Typically only prepared for festivals or to celebrate special occasions, this could prove the ideal way for you to sample some authentic cuisine!
Flickr photo by Phillie Whitehouse
Spend some time in Cambodia and you’ll probably get the chance to try fried spiders. This delicacy is particularly popular in Skuon, a town that is around 50 miles north of the capital Phnom Penh, and the arachnids you eat are specially bred in underground holes before being cooked in oil.
Often served with garlic and salt, the spiders are fried until their legs are stiff. The spiders are said to taste similar to cod and chicken and have mostly a crunchy texture. The abdomen, in contrast, is soft and has a brown paste that consists of organs, eggs and excrement. While some people choose to avoid eating this part of the creature, others see it as a delicacy.
The dish is not only eaten for its taste, but locals believe it has many medicinal properties and can help to relieve asthma, back pain and other ailments.
Flickr photo by Paul Mannix
Pig’s blood cake
One popular snack you’ll find in Taiwan’s street markets is pig’s blood cake. Made from sticky rice and pig’s blood, this delicacy is served on a wooden stick and eaten in the same way as an ice cream or lollipop.
In other parts of Asia like Singapore and Malaysia, pig’s blood is often made into tofu-like cubes and cooked in soups, along with other pig’s organs like intestines and stomach. It is believed to be good for health, replenishing your body’s lack of blood.
Flickr photo by Charles Haynes
If you’re seeking a drink to match the unusual food on your plate, snake wine could well tick all the boxes. This alcoholic beverage not only has snake blood dissolved into it but is also bottled with one of the creatures inside it.
Thought to have many medicinal qualities, the rice wine-based drink is often advertised as helping to cure hair loss and farsightedness, while it is reported that it can also help to improve virility.
Popular throughout south-east Asia, snake wine is especially drunk inVietnam and southern China.
Flickr photo by Paul Brockmeyer
These insects are particularly popular in Uganda and Thailand, and while they can be cooked before consumption they can also be eaten raw. Often found at local markets, you’ll find them sold with their wings and legs attached, although some do not choose to eat these parts of the body.
In the Middle East, however, grasshoppers are boiled in hot water and salted before being left in the sun to dry out. In Thailand, these creatures are usually deep-fried to crunchy richness.
Which of these have you tried? Any other suggestions?