How to Eat Weird Foods

Random Observation/Comment #359: Being open to eating new foods is a pre-requisite to be a bad idea bear. I think I just like to do things that keep me as bear-y as possible.

see lemons love food

I posted a photo of duck feet the other day from Chinese dim sum, and someone asked me about how I eat it and what the details are about the food so if this particular weird food came up in their life, what they would expect.  I think I did a fairly good job explaining it, so I decided to do this for a few other interesting foods that you may not know how to eat.

duck feet

  • Duck Feet braised with Sauce
    • Cooking it: Braise in a vat of sauce overnight so that the skin/meat falls off the bone
    • Order it: Go to any Chinese dim sum place in Chinatown or Flushing in NYC and they’ll have it.
    • Eating it: Bite into the first two joint openings and use your tongue and front of your teeth to pick out the bone. The chopsticks are used to maneuver the feet around. After biting the first few digits, you can move into the base of the palm
    • Weird part: Duck feet are mostly skin and the texture is slightly rough and slimy with all the sauce. It’s weird because it’s feet, but also weird because of the texture combination. If you don’t like eating fatty things, you definitely won’t like this.

chicken feet

  • Chicken Feet Marinated in Pickled Peppers
    • Cooking it: Boil chicken feet in salt and ginger water, and then transfer into cold boiled water with pickled pepper, ginger, and white wine vinegar. It’s served cold as an appetizer after marinating for 4 hours in the fridge.
    • Order it: This can also be found at select Chinese dim sum restaurants in Chinatown or Flushing.
    • Eating it: Because this is usually cold and not cooked at the same length as duck feet, it doesn’t fall off the bone as much. You can bite off the digits or go around it nibbling off the skin. The flavor of the vinegar and pickled coldness is very refreshing.
    • Weird part: Again, you’re eating feet. It’s less slimy, but more vinegary and definitely an acquired taste.

soup dumplings

  • Shanghai Soup dumplings
    • Cooking it: Most places put these gelatinous cubes of pig fat into the center of the dumplings and then steam it so the soup stays inside the dumpling.
    • Order it: Every Shanghainese restaurant has this, but I prefer Shanghai Café in Chinatown off Mott St
    • Eating it: Word of caution first, this stuff is usually made to order and the soup is scalding hot, so please be careful not to burn yourself. Pick up the soup dumpling gentling with chopsticks and put into your spoon. Bite a small hole on the side of the dumpling and drink some of the juices. Hold the dumpling with the chopsticks and use your spoon to get some black vinegar/ginger to pour into the opening you’ve just sucked juices from. Lastly, when cooled down, put the whole thing in your mouth and feel the awesome explosion.
    • Weird part: This isn’t so much weird, but freaking awesome. I love soup dumplings and everyone should if they eat it correctly and don’t burn yourself. It’s a dumpling filled with soup – what’s not to like?

roast pig feet

  • Pig Feet/Knuckles
    • Cooking it: The pigs feet are braised and cooked until tender for about 5 hours. Sometimes it’s made in vinegar and ginger, but I like it with a bit of bbq sauce and garlic.
    • Order it: This is slightly harder to find, but I know a great place that has roasted pork knuckles on 48th and Lex called Onya
    • Eating it: I like eating this with my hands and dipping it in the black vinegar. Sometimes it’s too messy and I’m forced to look like a hot mess. Sucking on toes.
    • Weird part: You’re eating the fatty skin off the feet and sucking on toes. Maybe that’s just your thing. It’s totally my jam.

steamed fsh

  • Steamed fish head
    • Cooking it: Clean the fish and get off the scales. Steam it in a wok for about 9 minutes (yes, with the head). Heat up some oil, green onion, ginger, and soy sauce and pour on top of fish.
    • Order it: Ask my mom to cook it because it’s the best when she does it. I think most Chinese banquet restaurants will sell this clean way of steaming fish. Claim the head, if you’re the head of the table.
    • Eating it: There are dishes where they only serve large fish heads. There are 3 parts that taste the best: 1) Cheeks – fish cheeks are the most tender and smooth. 2) Jaws – the Fish jaw is definitely bone-y, but really good for those who like to suck on the flavor. 3) Eyeballs – you don’t exactly eat them, but you take it out and suck out the juices. The pupil white ball in the middle is fun to chew on.
    • Weird part: You’re eating a fish face. The cheeks have meat, but everything else is exactly how you imagine eating a face would be. There’s a lot of skin and licking involved.

century eggs

  • Century Eggs
    • Cooking it: This is usually added at the end to congee.
    • Order it: You can find this at any Chinese restaurant that sells congee. Ask for “pay daan” and you’ll get a few pieces mixed in there.
    • Eating it: DO NOT EAT LIKE HARD BOILED EGGS. It’s hilarious for others to watch, but it’s way too thick and creamy to be eaten all at once. I only put half the egg into the congee bowl and bite small pieces at the time. The salty and thick yolk adds a lot of flavor to soup.
    • Weird part: It’s a black egg that looks clearly rotten. The taste can be off-putting to some, but in the right doses, it’s very delicate.

eating lobster heads

  • Lobster heads
    • Cooking it: After cleaning and killing the lobster humanely, steam it or throw it into a hot boiling pot for 12 minutes.
    • Order it: I don’t think I’ve seen lobster heads served whole in American restaurants. Chinese restaurants usually chop it up and do a stir fry with it, so I would rather make this myself.
    • Eating it: Peel off the claws with a twist. Hold the tail and abdomen to crack off the tail. Now open the head part and eat all that amazing green stuff. That’s the blood and liver (tomalley) and it’s really creamy. Do not eat the brain sack near its eyes. That’s filled with sand and gross. Everything else is game.
    • Weird part: I think this is perfectly normal. It’s high in cholesterol and the texture is very creamy. I personally love the taste because it tastes like the essence of seafood.

Crab heads

  • Crab heads
    • Cooking it: I kill the crab by grabbing its legs in one hand and lifting the bottom part of the shell with my thumb. The whole head piece just pushes out and the crab dies instantly. I prepare this steamed with XO sauce and some spicy peppers over flat noodles. The juices from the crab head add to the flavor of the noodles.
    • Order it: Some Chinese restaurants prepare it this way, but my mom does it best.
    • Eating it: Take the head and turn it upside down. Add some red vinegar and some of the flat noodles into the head and use it as a bowl. Get all those extra meat pieces on the inside of the side.
    • Weird part: You’re using a crab head as a bowl and enjoying all the juices from its cooked blood. Just another day.

raw octopus

  • Raw Octopus
    • Cooking it: Well… it’s not exactly cooked. It’s just chopped into small pieces 30 seconds before serving and placed on a plate with some hot sauce.
    • Order it: I order this at a Korean restaurant in Flushing called Sik Gaek Chun Ha
    • Eating it: Pick it up any way you can and put it in your mouth. The suctions will be lively and it will not want to be eaten. There’s really not that much flavor, so dip it in the hot sauce if you’d like. You’ll need to upgrade your chopstick level to grab some of this stuff.
    • Weird part: It’s still moving on the plate, on the chopstick, and in your mouth.

sushi

  • Sushi
    • Cooking it: Prepared by amazing Japanese chefs cut with decades of experience and made perfectly.
    • Order it: You can get it a lot of places, but if you’re really looking for a good time, go to 15 East for the tasting menu.
    • Eating it: Some people at this wrong, which is why I added it to the list. You’re supposed to use your hands for sushi. Hold with thumb and middle finger on the sides and the pointer finger on the fish. When dipping in soy sauce, flip the sushi over and only lightly dip the fish part (careful to not get the rice wet). Tip your head back 30 degrees and put it all in your mouth in one bite.
    • Weird part: It’s raw fish? Which means it’s awesome.

hakarl

  • Hakarl (fermented shark from Iceland)
    • Cooking it: It’s fermented shark that’s hung around in a room with other fermented sharks for 4-5 months
    • Order it: Somewhere in Iceland. Those weirdos.
    • Eating it: It’s on a toothpick and eaten as a drinking snack. Close out all senses and try not to think about rotting fish.
    • Weird part: It smells like ammonia and tastes not too far off. It’s said to be an “acquired taste”.

People ask me: “Why do you like to eat such weird foods? Isn’t it gross/slimy/icky?”

Answer: I like being pleasantly surprised when it tastes good and I’m always on the edge of my seat trying new things and straying from routine.

~See Lemons Eat Weird Foods

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