If you’ve ever wanted to book a flight to China to check out its megalithic cities or natural beauty, then you better prepare yourself for a wide away of wild foods that you’d never expect to come across.
If you think that Chinese cuisine is going to be anything like your favorite take-out spot down the street with options like general Tsos and Sesame Chicken, then you are in for a startling surprise.
Authentic Chinese fare is both weird and wonderful. Different regions of the country offer their own unique take on things, but none of it is going to be very familiar to your western taste buds. Picture dishes with names like stinky tofu and fried bee larvae – you might be skeptical, but people swear by these unorthodox culinary creations.
In order to truly enjoy the diversity of delicacy that Asia’s largest country has to offer, you’re going to have to take a step outside of your comfort zone and be willing to be a little adventurous. Don’t worry, egg fried rice and lo mein will still be waiting for you when you get back home.
Facts Verse Presents: Most Unusual Foods that Only Exist in China
Before we dig into all of these unusual dishes, make sure you hit the like button and subscribe to our channel. By tapping the bell icon and turning on notifications, you’ll never have to miss another one of our fact-filled videos.
If you ever find yourself in Hangzhou, then you’re not going to want to miss this tasty treat.
Deliciously tender and savory chicken is served on a lotus leaf with a side of rice and veggies.
While this dish might not be too over-the-top – in fact, it’s pretty tame compared to some of our other list items to come – it’s origins come with an interesting story.
It’s said that a beggar from Hangzhou once had a chicken but had no gear to cook it with. All he had was a knife and the means to make a fire.
Using what he had, he slaughtered the chicken, gutted it, then wrapped it in a layer of yellow mud. He then proceeded to roast it – feathers and all – and onlookers stated that his meal resembled a giant potato.
When the chicken was finished cooking, he peeled the scorched mud away, and with it went all of the chicken’s feathers. He then enjoyed the meat which had gotten delectably tender while maintaining its moisture.
The modern means of preparing Beggar’s chicken might not enlist the use of regular mud, but it still mimics the process described in the story by using a food-grade subsitute.
You can find bamboo rice all across china, but it’s especially popular in regions with high populations of Dai and Yao ethnic people.
The bamboo is cooked until it is seared and tender and is typically served with a side of pork and rice.
If you’re looking to get your mitts on this fragrantly wonderful goody. Then we recommend visiting the Yuannan or Guizhou province. Guilin and Taiwan also are hotbeds for this sort of cookery.
Again, this is a pretty safe bet if you’re tastes are less adventurous but the next item we’re going to discuss might not be for everyone.
This dish doesn’t actually take a full century to prepare, but it is a type of fermented egg that sure looks – and smells – like it might have been sitting around for a 100 years. Or at least, to someone that isn’t used to preserved foods like this one.
Many years ago, a rural Chinese farmer is said to have discovered some naturally preserved duck eggs in some mud. When he gave the eggs a taste he found it to be absolutely delicious to his palette. He then set out on a quest to figure out how to replicate the process intentionally.
When he figured out the basics of the preservation process, his new creations created waves in his community and soon became a nationally renowned delicacy.
That was centuries ago, but his creation has survived through the ages and has been refined to perfection.
Today, duck, chicken, and quail eggs are most typically used. They are soaked in a mixture of black tea, lime, salt, and wood ash. The eggs can soak between seven weeks and 6 months and develop a very pungent flavor and aroma in the process.
Hey, quick question!
Did you ever get around to liking this video and subscribing to our channel? It literally only takes a second.
Anyways, up next is something that might make your stomach turn a bit.
Speaking of fermentation, this item might have an off-putting name but it’s a very popular snack food item all across Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan.
And It also definitely has a very distinct aroma – to say the least.
To westerners and others unfamiliar with this dish, it’s scent can be overwhelming, but those that enjoy it swear by it.
Stinky tofu is made by mixing tofu with a blend of fermented milk, meat or fish brine, and vegetables. This combination is then allowed to ferment for weeks or even months on end.
It is a staple food of street vendors who often serve it in cubes that are skewered together. In Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Chinatowns across the globe it is normally deep-fried in peanut oil and served with a side of chili sauce.
You can also find stinky tofu packaged and factory-made at Chinese grocery stores. These variations are typically less pungent than the handcrafted assortments.
If you can make it past its acrid smell, stinky tofu is actually quite delectable so don’t knock it until you try it.
Fried Bee Pupae
if you’re looking for a low-fat meal that is both packed full of nutrition and high in protein then maybe this oddity is right up your alley.
It might sound bizarre to eat bees but the Chinese are pretty comfortable eating a wide variety of insects. If you ever peruse a night market in Beijing you’ll certainly come across vendors slinging spiders, beetles, scorpions, grasshoppers, and even centipedes for use as ingredients.
Folks in the Yunnan Province, Guizhou, Fenghuang, and Zhangjiajie love their bee pupae served up in all sorts of ways in addition to being stir-fried. You can also find steamed pupa, pupa cakes, cold fried pupa in sweet sauce, and many other variants.
Just as you might expect by its name, these noodles aren’t made out of wheat or grain but are made from Popeye’s favorite dark green, spinach.
They are typically served up with meat, eggs, veggies, or chili – or really anything else that you think might taste good with it.
These bright green noodles might not sound very strange, but they definitely taste peculiar to someone visiting China for the first time. The good news is they are insanely healthy especially compared to that take-out chow mein you love back home.
If you’ve ever had gnocchi, Mashi is a similar dumpling-like pasta that is popular in northeastern China. They are also called cat’s ear noodles because of there signature shape.
Mashi is popularly served fried in a similar way to rice with a sprinkling of crunchy vegetables and meats. They are typically cooked up with sweet and spicy flavorings and spices
This dish finds its roots in the Shaanxi province and is very filling peasant food. They are incredibly cheap and fairly easy to make and sure to become one of your new favorites if you ever get the chance to give them a try.
Roasted Street Bird
Who doesn’t love food served on a stick?
It’s a staple of street vendors across the planet but this particular offering is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
An entire pigeon – yes you heard that correctly, a pigeon- is first marinated and then threaded onto a skewer. The bird is then roasted for several hours and then served up for adventurous consumers to try for the equivalent of 3 or 4 American dollars.
Birds Nest Soup
One of the more controversial items on this list is a soup that is made from an actual bird’s nest. The Swiftlet’s nest is made from the tiny bird’s own saliva which is kind of gelatinous until it gets exposed to air and hardens.
The most common preparation for this bizarre soup is made by combining the gummy nest with chicken broth and boiled until it becomes jelly like. The nest itself has very little flavor but fans of the Swiftlet nest soup believe it to have healing effects that will help it’s consumers to stay young and strong.
Turtle Shell Jelly
Also known as guilinggao, this gooey dessert item is made from an actual tortoiseshell. It’s traditionally made from the unfortunate turtle’s bottom shell.
Box turtles and other common varieties are used for most variants but super-premium – not to mention seriously expensive – versions are made from the elusive golden coin turtle.
Some commercial turtle jellies that can be found at the market don’t actually include any turtle ingredients anymore but the real deal is still a sought after delicacy to many.
Yet again, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that turtle jelly can improve their circulation, support muscles and joints, and even correct kidney problems. Some turtle jelly fans ingest the bitter, black gel on a daily basis touting its age-defying effect on their skin and complections.
The tiny seahorse is one of the most adorable marine creatures in the deep blue sea but turns out, it also makes a great snack!
Their texture is likened to that of squid and is said to be fairly salty. They are typically served on skewers or occasionally in soups.
If you’re going to give these little guys a try, however, you have to be on the lookout for sharp pieces that can get caught in your teeth and gums. So proceed with caution.
Seahorse is also believed to be a cure for all sorts of things ranging from male sexual dysfunction to asthma. Unfortunately, the seahorse population has been dwindling in recent years due to overfishing and high demand.
So what do you think? Are you eager to try out some fried bee pupae or some of that tar-like tortoise jelly? Which one of those two sounds the most appetizing to you? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
And before you go, make sure you remember to like this video and subscribe to our channel if you haven’t already. If you tap the bell icon and turn on notifications, you can keep up to date with all of our latest content.