Saturday, March 3, 2012

Funny Stuff: The 10 Funkiest Foods I Met In China

*This is Funny Stuff:  If you're looking for the Chicken Foot Soup Recipe, we put it under this link:  Chicken foot Stew.

Now, to be clear, before talking about Chinese food, ordering off a Chinese food Menu in Hong Kong usually brought you something like this:

seafood dumpling, chinese restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Seafood dumplings and wonton soup just outside the gate to Kowloon Park

Some were traditional Chinese foods and some was more neuvo but it all tasted pretty much like heaven.    I mean, you're in China so pretty much every restaurant was a Chinese food restaurant right?  I also ate a lot of food, strange food so I thought I would give you my list of  

The top 10 Funkiest Foods We Met in China and Hong Kong:

10.  Beef tendon.

beef tendon

I don't know whether beef tendon is a gross food or not, but seeing signs that said, "Fresh Beef Tendon" kind of freaked me out.  I know we eat the more interesting parts of beef ground up in hamburgers and hot dogs.  Spelling it out though.  That was kinda strange.  I'm all about Chinese food, but can we give it a handy American euphemism: Achilles Meal?  Maybe?  

9.  Chicken Foot Soup.

chicken feet soup

Here's what's weird about Chinese food.  A lot of it still looks like it did when it was up walking around.  Minxi and I stopped at a fast food place in Macau.  She managed to score me some chicken foot soup.    The soup was really pretty good and when I asked Minxi if she wanted the foot, she was excited.  Apparently, it's the bonus like the wonton in the wonton soup.  Felt like I dodged a bullet there.  She didn't offer to share.  Chicken feet?  Yech!

8.  Squid on a Stick.

squid on a stick with cuddle fish balls

Night Market in Mon Kok.

Several people had told me that the best Chinese food in China was not in the restaurants.  They told me to eat anything I could find street vendors selling on a stick.  Oh yes I did, with dipping sauce.  It was awesome!  Those are cuddle fish balls in the other hand.  I felt sort of bad for the cuddle fish but hey, life is rough.

7.  The back yard.

gardening in China

This isn't a Chinese food or Chinese food restaurant thing exactly but follow along.  This is a picture of Minxi's brother's back yard in Xindu.  The food is grown in the garden to the left.  It comes into the house on the right to be eaten.  The left overs go to the pigs.  The pig poop and anything...excreted in the house go into the pond on the left to be aged then scooped out and sent back to the garden.  Minxi's sister in law's steamed pork dumplings wrapped in banana leaves were the best food in the history of the world but I tried not to think about the whole "circle of life" thing going on in the back yard while I was eating.  

6.  The chicken feet.

vacuum sealed chicken foot with spices
This food strange, very strange

Did I mention the chicken feet?  Vacuum sealed in plastic with spices.  I'm so not hungry.  I had a nightmare like this once while napping in biology class.

5.  Jellied rice.

Jellied Rice from Chinese Restaurant in Kowloon, Hong Kong

Southern Chinese Food Restaurant in Kowloon

These little guys were really very tasty.  It's steamed strips of jellied rice in a duck sauce like sauce with sesames.  The problem was that they were basically steaming, spineless white grubs.  Getting them to your mouth was a challenge then the good taste vs. slug like texture battle began.  I did eat them with chop sticks but it wasn't pretty.  Minxi has a nice laugh and she got to practice it...a lot.

4. Jelly Straws.

Jelly straws, Jelly candy from China
Speaking of things with a slug like consistency, how about jelly straws.  Just like the name implies.  These are tubes of a jelly like candy that you squeeze into your mouth.   I brought some home and a friend of mine at work literally spit it out.  The taste is fine but that "sucking the gut from a caterpillar" feeling is way too strong for me.  Even my daughter, who loves them, managed to dump half a slug into my carry on case.  Very nice.

3.  Dried shark.

whole dried shark, Tai O Market, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Tia O Fish Market, Launtau Island

Hey, if you're going to be eating shark a lot, why bother with hustling down to the market every other day for a slice?  Why not just buy the whole shark, hang it in your pantry and cut off what you need?  That's a real whole dried shark that I really saw at Tia O market.  Really weird.

2.  Tea Eggs.

tea eggs

Surprisingly yummy are tea eggs.  Literally, they are eggs boiled in a strong tea.  They've got a nasty green brown colored flesh problem but have a nice mellow sort of taste.  Plus, if you've been on a bus for 14 hours and need protein right now, there's nothing better.  Get a drink though.  They gave me pasty mouth something fierce.  Although, I'm drooling now thinking about them.  Mmmm tea eggs.

1.  This thing.

fish maw at Tai O Market, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Tia O Market

"What is it?'  I asked Minxi.
"I don't know."  She answered.
"Is it part of a fish?" 
"I don't know."
"Can we order it at a restaurant?"

We asked around some and it does definitely come from inside a fish.  I sort of think that we're looking at dried fish air bladders here but I could be wrong. (Update:  This is fish "mow" or air bladder.  It is a delicacy I understand, though not something  you're going to find at a run of the mill Chinese food restaurant in the US.)

Did I mention the chicken feet?

chicken feet for chicken foot soup

That's so gross.  I can't stop staring.


Michelle said...

Lol, love it. I had trouble with the chicken feet, too.

Joel Stottlemire said...

Yeah. I guess I'm just not used to food that still looks like what it was before. Plus, chickens walk in their own poop.

Anonymous said...

Looks more like Tai O market in Lantau. Are you confusing it with Tai Po Market over on the other side of the NT?

Joel Stottlemire said...

You are right. That is Tai O Market. Thanks for the catch anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Yes, your 'number 1' items are dried fish mow. like shark fins and bird's nest, they are tasteless. Mainly used in soup (sweet or savory). And like carvier, it can be dirt cheap or it can be super expensive. together with dried abalone, sea cucumber and shark fin... they are the four 'dried' gold in chinese cuisine.

Joel Stottlemire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel Stottlemire said...

Thanks for your clarification! I did see a lot of sea cucumber in Hong Kong but I'm afraid I didn't manage to try any of the "four dried golds."

Thanks again for you comment.

Anonymous said...

Those little jelly things are gross. I saw one that was in a cup and looked like a little flower. I didn't get it because, they are gross.