There are many examples of crazy cuisine in Asia. Perhaps there are some areas like China and Thailand that are rumoured to eat various seemingly revolting delicacies, such as monkey heads, cats, snakes, dragon flies, and so on and so forth.
Japan, however, has the best known “odd” cuisine – at least by western standards. Best known outside of Japan, of course, would be sushi in its various forms. Many people find the idea of eating raw fish to be a little unappealing.
Of course, if you’ve read my blog for a bit, or met me, then you will know that I happen to enjoy sushi very much. I even touched on whale and horse sashimi a few weeks ago. (Sorry, world. But that serves you right for serving up something that works as both lunch and a ride TO lunch. As for the whale, I won't make a habit out of it, but curiosity got the better of me.)
Next up the ladder would perhaps be fu-- … um… fu something. That blow fish that contains enough poison to kill you if it’s not properly prepared. I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to. Mind you, I don’t intend to ask for it as take out or from some place with a dilapidated yellow sign that says something like “5%0 the price off! Good Here Eat!! ” But still… its on the list.
The next few rungs on our ladder of culinary craziness are perhaps less well known outside of Japan.
Most easily accessible to foreigners, at least in my book, would be Suzime (“sue-seh-mey”). This delightful dish is actually an izakaya (pub) specialty. Its very simple. Take a few sparrows (yes, barnyard sparrows) skewer them with a stick, and roast em whole. I think some places also batter and deep fry them, but I can’t confirm this.
Again, I haven’t eaten these yet. They may in fact be a myth that is used to frighten new teachers. If so, well, I’ll be disappointed – I’m up for eating them.
Next on the list is the dish that is perhaps the most famous gaijin repellant within Japan. “Natto” consists of fermented (aka “rotten”) beans. It is apparently quite potent smelling and potent tasting. I have some in my fridge right now, courtesy of my dear co-worker Mikiko. In fact, I am going to eat some right now (or…right as I was writing this…) and give you my first thoughts!
OK! I’ve just eaten them! And the verdict is….
They look a little nasty (gooey and stuck together), and they smell a little funky, kind of sweet and bean-ey… but nothing really awful. I’d honestly been led to believe that eating Natto would be kind of like pulling on a bib and diving head first into an outhouse after cheesy chilli night at the lactose intolerance support club.
Really, though…it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t great, either, mind you. It was kind of like eating sticky, gooey, raw-ish brown beans. Which is shocking, considering that Natto is in actuality, sticky, gooey, raw-ish brown beans.
OK! Now that we’ve had that culinary experience. We are moving on to numero un-o! The big nasty, champion of sketchy Japanese cuisine. We are talking about something that is so famously nasty that most Japanese blanche at the idea. In fact, my Japanese friend tried to stop me from eating this, and the chef was both highly surprised and highly amused when I successfully ordered it.
Hrmm… I’ll give you a minute to think of what this could possibly be.
First clue: you order it at a sushi restaurant.
Second clue: eating it makes people question my heterosexuality.
Heh heh. What could that be???
Third clue: you have to get it from a MALE fish.
Heh heh he hehehehehe…
RAW COD SEMEN.
In a sushi roll, no less.
You can take a minute to really ponder that one…
I have to track down the name of this stuff in Japanese, but seriously, that’s what it is.
I’d heard rumours of this stuff from dear Nick Sensei, but I never really believed him until last week. You see, I went out for sushi with a female Japanese friend of mine last week. (This friend shall remain nameless, because I suppose it could be embarrassing for her to know that seven or eight nameless people on the internet have heard that one of her favourite foods is raw fish cum.) Anyway, this friend of mine ordered some sort of sushi from the sushi chef. Being the adventurous type, I also caught his eye and held up two fingers to indicate that I wanted the same thing.
The Chef’s eyebrows went up a bit, and my friend quickly pulled my hand down and said “no… no. you don’t want to eat this.” And to the chef “hitatsu…hitatsu..” (one, one). The conversation then went like this:
Her: umm… this is not something you will want to eat.
Me: Oh, come on. I’ll eat anything.
Her: Really. This is….kind of bad.
Me: Ok… what is it?
Her: umm… (giggles, covers her mouth)… um…. Its… ah… man…um….fish….um….ahh…..
Me: (laughing)…let me guess… .. sperm?
Her… (turning red… and laughed behind her hand)…um… yeah…fish…man….
Me: Raw Cod Semen!??
Her: ummm… yes…
Me: interesting… (to chef)… sumi-masen! Futatsu, kudesai. (Excuse me! Two please”)
The chef raised his eyebrows at me, and turned to my friend, as if to say “you didn’t tell him it was chicken or something like that did you? Does he really want fish cum for lunch??” To which she nodded…and he grinned at her and then at me.
What arrived was a single roll of sushi filled with about… oh… I dunno… 50 ml? say four or five ketchup packets worth…. Of creamy white fish cum. Yep. There was a hell of a lot of fish cum. It looked kind of like mayo. On a bed of rice and wrapped in
I am sorry, but I seem to have forgotten to bring my camera that day, so if you are going to get a picture, I’ll have to order it again.
Heh. So… stay tuned for more fish cum. Same bat time, same bat channel.
Yep. I went back.