5 of the Strangest Chinese Foods

5 of the Strangest Chinese Foods

There’s nothing I love more than late-night street food in China. Whether in Guangzhou where people are famed for eating almost anything, or in Shanghai with a ‘sweeter tooth’, you’re sure to find something that you love and have never tried before. That said, there’s plenty of food in China with the ‘shock factor’ – here’s 5 of the strangest Chinese foods:

  1. 沙虫 [TR: 沙蟲] — Shā chóng — Sipunculus nudus (peanut worms) 

Sipunculus nudus chinese food in a bucket

Peanut worms are a popular culinary delight in the south of China and are often made into a jelly-like dish. I’m sure I tried these once, but for some reason the memory slips my mind…

  2. 胎盘 [TR:胎盤] — Tāipán — Human placenta

Something that often raises eyebrows and discussion around the world is the consumption of human placenta. According to Chinese medicine it is believed that placenta can lighten pigmentation and improve skin texture. It is also said that it can reduce acne, as well as many other health benefits. Not for everyone, I’m sure, but a good one to know in case a postnatal colleague starts offering snacks around the office…

3. 臭豆腐 [TR 臭豆腐] — Chòu dòufu — Stinky tofu

If smells could kill, stinky tofu would have seen off half of the population in China. A smell that used to mark my walk back home every day, no street would be complete without its own stinky tofu outlet. I have to say though, it really doesn’t taste as bad as it smells… one for your ‘I’ll definitely maybe try it’ list.

child closes his nose at stinky tofu street stall

4. 油炸蜂蛹 [TR: 油炸蜂蛹] — Yóu zhá fēng yǒng — Fried bees 

Bee pupae, high in protein and low in fat, are a popular treat in Yunnan and surrounding provinces. Rich in nutrition, they are eaten steamed, stir-fried or fried. Travel China and you’re likely to come across fried bees as a street food. Try it if you dare – you might be surprised by its sweet flavour!

fried honeybees on a white plate in china

5. 醉蝦 [TR: 醉蝦] — Zuì xiā — Drunken shrimp

Shrimp immersed in ethanol until they die a (drunken) death might at first turn a few stomachs and heads. Mostly brought to the table alive, usually still wriggling, they are soaked in baijiu (rice wine) or another spirit until they pass out. Then often marinated in a saucy ‘chaser’ before being boiled in a hot pot, they are finally ready for eating. Poor prawns, not my idea of a Friday night on the tiles…

Here’s a picture taken of me during my last trip to China where a colleague offered me duck’s head (a ‘restaurant specialty’). That’s one I can safely say I won’t be trying again!

sean eating duck's head in china

Tonight I think I’ll just stick with cheese on toast…

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