Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Ridiculous Foods in Japan

Here in Japan there are quite a few strange foods. Not that there are not strange foods in my home country, I am thinking of prairie oysters, seal flipper pie and head cheese, but Japan takes the cake for food in the strange vein. If you are sensitive to seeing weird foods for whatever reason then I suggest averting your eyes on this post. Do not worry we have not eaten many of these foods, and the few we have has been only a strange test, not exactly dinner, but try guessing which if you can bear it.

Ikizukuri-Sashimi cut fish layed on the still living body of the fish. Imagine eating something that is watching you eat it, too much to bear but this dish is really desired and expensive here in Japan

You can have it in Mackarel...
Red Snapper.....Rock Shrimp and a host of other horrified seafoods. Basil Seed Drink-Yes hydrated jellylike basil seeds floating in your juice, not exactly a children's delight. Basil on pizza, fruit in drinks, and never the twain shall they meet has always been my feeling here. Cod roe sacks-They look awful but on new years Jackie mistook one as fruit at our host's house and swallowed it with chagrin as everyone was watching her, I mean who eats this kind of thing for breakfast? Collon Cream Snack-Yes this snack just has a horrible name, I mean I am not even going to stoop into analyzing and joking about the name but this is a product that belongs on the pharmacy shelves not at the reach of snacking children.Dolphin Meat-What more can I say? Flipper on your platter anyone? Check out the film "the Cove" for a great exposee on Japan's Dolphin slaughter and the direct ties to marine parks.Dried Squid-A popular snack for kids or people in transit. Dip it in mayo and this leathery snack becomes a pliable low fat fishy jerky. I am familiar with it from Korea but I still cannot get over the grotesque form.Tamago Kake Gohan-Raw egg on rice, please cook your eggs, salmonella is not fun.Shiokara-A mess of fermented shrimp, fish and seaweed. What on earth would you want to eat this for never mind come accross producing it? Did someone find this mess in the cold storage, starving and desperate stoop down and eat it......then eureka shiokara!Natto- This is everyone's favourite breakfast food, a slimy mess of fermented soy beans. The stuff smells like old shoes, has the texture of mucous and tastes like both. Why do people eat this? Well they say it is the most healthy thing to eat. Well then I will just die early happilly eating grapefruit, bacon, eggs and toast.Fugu-Ahhhhh the deadly poisonous blowfish. The fish's skin, innards, eggs and mucous are highly paralytic and fatal, though a skilled chef can remove it and give you a delectable sushi dinner if you are brave or dumb enough to trust your chef. I have eaten this one, as the meat is just fine, though have a skilled hand do the dirty work. Hachinokodomo-Bee and wasp larvae. Apparently a great source of protein, a little nutty and sweet, if you can get over their looks and the idea that they are like a maggot.Ma zushi-Horse sashimi, yes that is raw horse meat. Japanese people have a lot of affinity for horse meat. I know it is done in France as well but the English ways about me do not allow me to consume a horse, especially when he is so close o his formerly living state. Basashi Ice Cream-Yeah so if you eat raw horse why not try turning it into ice cream? It tastes like the idea sounds, I mean just think horse meat and ice cream two things that should never meet in one. This one I am holding has fried horse meat croquettes and soy sauce drizzled over it. This dish makes it clear how little contact that Japanese have had with the western dessert rules. Tako Ice-While on the subject of gross ice cream (so what if this is a big judgment call) lets try some tasty Octopus Icecream. This is one that should have never left the drafting board, how the stuff got into production is a complete mystery.Inago no tsukudani- Students of mine have eaten this and it is a popular dish up in Nagano, fried grasshoppers done over in a sweet soy glaze. The looks really put me off but this is one I would be willing to try, I mean it could be good, but the looks....
Hachi no Senbei-Every town in Japan sells it variant of the sweet rice cracker snack for tourists coming through, some have chosen strange things to draw attention, squid, wasabi, fish eggs but wasps in crackers? This is just a bad idea, considering that wasps have stingers and children like crackers...you go figure. Konnyakku-A wierd diet food here in Japan looks like rubber smells like fish and tastes like nothing. It wiggles and squeaks, why do people eat it considering it apparently contains no calories or major nutritional value is confounding to me, it does not even look appealing. Mozuku-This dish looks like a wad of shower clot, smells like it too. Apparently it is a type of seaweed that boosts your immune system. The taste and looks are masked by a splash of vinegar, the favourite wierdness concealer of foods in Japan, to put you off the trail that what you are eating looks less like food than it does like algae. Niboshi-dried little anchovies that added to almost any dish. The sneaky little things are to be eaten whole, nothing spices up a soup or a bowl of rice like crunchy fish heads. Placenta 10000-Jelly drink, hmmm sounds suspicious. Here in Japan jelly drinks are popular, they are juices with floating bits and chinks of Jelly, usually fruit. This one is what the label says it is. Apparently pig placenta tastes like peach, I am never going near to finding out about this one.
Shirako-The semen sacs from fish, a long tube of fish semen is a common snack at izakayas and sushi bars. You can get almost any fish's sperm here to munch on and I want nothing to do with it. Shirouo no Odorigui-Living dancing icefish that are eaten while still squirming. They are about as easy to get down as the name is to pronounce, not to mention really strange and possibly cruel. Candied whole crabs-when you catch crabs that are too small should you release them? No no no, deep fry and candy those little snappers. Apparently a popular accompaniment with beer, and maybe some wasp crackers. Kujira Sashimi-The Japanese consider the whale to be a fish, ridiculous right? Well bite on this, all whaling of the Japanese fleet is done as a "scientific research project" not as a commercial enterprise. It certainly seems like a commercial enterprise as I can buy this meat at the grocery store rather than the local lab. In Canada people whale in the north but for their own community and on a small scale low impact basis. Japan has commercial fleets still playing moby dick to get at this unethical sashimi. Zazamushi-Another widely available product in Japan, both canned and in restaurants, is zazamushi, the name for aquatic insects inhabiting gravel beds in rivers. Zazamushi is not a single variety of insect, but is a catch-all name applied to the larvae of insects that live at the bottom of rivers. Unappealing looking to say the least. So can you guess which ones we have indulged in? which would you try?


  1. The dried squid looked more and more appetizing as your post went on. I don't think I'd be brave enough to try most of that stuff. Yuck!

  2. I've taken the pleasure of making a table(because i am really bored right now)just from what i can deduce.
    things that are alive = 14.8%
    slimy(I hate slimy things) = 37%
    crunchy(can be good or bad, fish skull=bad) = 29.6%

  3. wasn't finished, hit post by accident

    self harm i.e. blowfish, wasps = 11.1%
    uncooked meat = 25.9%

    things that would make me vomit = 48.1%

    i could handle bugs and raw meat, but the Shirako, Mozuku and such would just destroy me.
    I have to say the gray tasteless diet rubber is looking mighty good, or a Tamago Kake Gohan with no egg.

  4. Thank you for this blogpost. I will use it to disgust my daughters.

    By the way, my family used to snack on dried squid and dried, candied cuttlefish while driving from Southern California to San Francisco. There's nothing like hours of snacking on dried sea mollusks to give you *BAD* breath when you get to your destination.

  5. this seems rather mean spirited

  6. we ate dried anchovies in Malaysia but normally we would throw the head away before fry them.. and we have dried squid here too. Fried dried anchovies taste nice with Nasi Lemak, Rice Porridge