Japan is well known for its wacky culinary choices, in particular the potentially lethal Fugu, a well-known fish delicacy. But the following 6 weird and wonderful dishes and drinks are so out there, they’re almost off the planet!
It sounds relatively benign, and its literal translation of ‘white children’ could mean anything, but Shirako is also known as cods milk soup because it’s basically made with the sperm sac of a male cod fish served in a soup. Of course it’s supposedly a sexual stimulant, but so is garlic, honey, and chocolate, and they have got to be much easier to swallow!
2. Odori Don
This revered dish in Japan is our equivalent of Fear Factor dining. A broth with a recently decapitated octopus still twitching in its final death throes – but I guess at least you know it’s fresh!
Like Fugu, this dish has an element of risk attached to it, as the suction cups on the Octopus’ tentacles can attach to parts of your insides and effectively kill you!
There’s also a shrimp version, where the live crustacean is dowsed in alcohol so it’s pretty much sozzled by the time it gets to your table – and hopefully doesn’t notice it’s being eaten alive!
3. Frog Sashimi
Sticking with the really fresh food theme, this gourmet dish involves a live frog being dissected in front of the customer with the organs removed, and the tasty bits served on ice to be eaten there and then – blinking bulbous eyes ‘n all!
Obviously there is quite a lot of opposition to this from animal rights activists, so it’s more in demand than ever!
4. Octopus Ice Cream
Mmmmm, it’s mid-summer and you’ve got a craving for something cold and refreshing like a lovely creamy ice cream… with octopus in it. Yeah, no, it’s just not going to hit the spot is it? What about jellyfish ice cream? These may be a culinary delicacy in Japan, but there are some things that just shouldn’t go together, and anything from the sea and ice cream are two of those.
5. Wasabi Beer
Same scenario, it’s mid-summer, and you’ve just eaten an octopus ice cream and you need something cold and refreshing to get rid of the taste, so how about a wasabi beer to wash it down with? On what planet is that a good idea? Although, oddly enough I’m quite keen to give it a go…
6. Placenta 10000 Jelly Drink
On the positive side it’s really good for you, and apparently tastes like fruit. On the negative side you’re drinking pig placenta in jelly – that can’t be pleasant, can it?
Weird and wacky is really where the Japanese excel, as there were many runners-up in this category including the space saving square watermelons, bread in a can, wasp biscuits, drinkable lettuce, and insect sushi to name a few.
These may all seem strange to our tastes, but there’s obviously a demand for them in Japan, and let’s face it, we put a combination of yeast extract, salt, vegetable extract, niacin, thiamine, spice extracts, riboflavin, folic acid, and celery extract (aka Marmite) on our toast most mornings, and that sounds pretty awful when you think about it!
Make sure you know the language so you don’t accidentally order any of these, unless of course some appeal to your inner sense of culinary adventure!