Thursday, March 18, 2010

Would you eat this?

Tasty but... definitely not for everyone!

Until I watched The Soong Sisters, I didn't know about the Chinese delicacy known as hairy or Shanghai crab. But after learning that it's my all-time favorite actress-heroine Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia's favorite food, my curiosity was really piqued to try this gourmet delight.

So imagine my delight when a family friend here in Hong Kong served it to my mother and me at her house one day. And when she urged us to "Eat the male eggs. It's the best", we duly did so -- only to puzzle as to how the males could have eggs. Were those male hairy/Shanghai crabs hermaphrodites of some sort, my mother and I wondered? Only to belatedly find out that the family friend had felt too shy to tell us that those "eggs" we had eaten actually were... sperm.

If truth be told, animal sperm would not top my list of things to want to eat. But... after watching Departures, more specifically the scene in which the senior undertaker grills something and proceeds to eat it with great relish, I found myself really wanting to try whatever he had been eating... even after discovering that it was... blowfish sperm.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), a fellow foodie friend had also seen the Japanese film and had a similar reaction to that scene as me. And so strongly positive had been her reaction that she then had proceeded to try to track down a restaurant in Hong Kong which served this delicacy. Then, after she had successfully did so, she invited me to dinner to partake of it with her.

Having duly accepted her invitation, she and I and two other people (including my mother) went last Friday to the Japanese restaurant -- only to be informed by the chef that, alas, the unfarmed version of that particular delicacy was now out of season. :S

Consequently, we had to "just" "content" ourselves with a fabulous omakase dinner at Sushi Kuu -- that included an absolutely sublime onsen egg, ikura (salmon roe) and uni (sea urchin) combo dish, slices of incredible melt-in-your-mouth toro (fatty tuna)... and the dish pictured at the top of this blog entry: shirako -- i.e., cod fish sperm! (Yes, really!!) ;DDD


Glenn, kenixfan said...

You are entering into true Bourdain territory here. He ate a similar dish during his last Tokyo episode with the Iron Chef in attendance. I can think of "scarier" foods to try than this so I might one day have the nerve to try it as well.

Dragonstar said...

You've reminded me of a time long ago, when I was still a child in South Wales. My mother occasionally served a treat to us - we just knew it as Roe. It was some time before I realised that the "hard roe" was fish eggs, and the "soft roe" was "eggs" from the male fish!

The meal you show looks very much more colourful than the roe my mother served.

YTSL said...

Hi Glenn --

True Bourdain territory? Thought I was already there -- especially since I visited one of the places he visited in Hong Kong long before he did and have subsequently visited another four more of them! ;b

Hi Dragonstar --

Thanks for sharing your great story. Didn't realize people in Wales enjoyed fish sperm too! :D

sarah bailey knight said...

Hi ytsl,

Haven't eaten fish sperm but the dish in your photo looks tasty.

I will admit to having eaten 4 of the 7 foods on the "7 More Asian Delicacies You...." blog you link to. Horseshoe crab (in a Portuguese stew with the shell left in for additional flavor), fried scorpions (not that large though), fish eye and natto. The fish eye was the most difficult for me to eat as it was popped/scouped out of the head and put on my plate but I did smile, say thank you and eat it. I like onsen eggs too.

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

I've eaten four of those dishes in that list too -- with horseshoe crab roe and fish eyes being my favorites. (Re the latter: I especially like the fish eyes found in fish head curry -- yum, yum!)

Natto is only okay -- ditto the cod sperm: i.e., I'm happy to eat them but won't seek them out.

And re onsen eggs: the one I had at Sushi Kuu was really amazing -- with a yolk that bordered on reddish rather than the usual yellow. :b

Gattina said...

You didn't tell if it was good. I always like to try new food except bugs and insects, lol !

YTSL said...

Hi Gattina --

It tasted okay... not something I'd seek out again but not something I'd avoid either. The thing is that it's so creamy that it went down too easily to truly savour. :D

eliza bennet said...

Coming from a country where people not only eat fish sperm but Ram's testicles (which are called Ram Eggs) along with brain and eyes of fish, these do not scare me.

I have also eaten snake and even enjoyed it.

But when it came to eating bugs in Beijing I just couldn't do it. Having seen people eating them from skewers crunching away with the legs of the bugs next to their mouths actually made my stomach turn. I had to leave the area.

In Korea I have actually met someone who has tasted dog meat and even listening to him I was disgusted with hearing about it.

And the idea of eating a pigeon makes me a bit queasy (even though everyone says they are very good) but I could eat it if I absolutely have to. Same goes for rabbit, I have tasted it and found it not to my taste but I'll eat it again.

Also I can't eat pork for religious reasons.

YTSL said...

Hi "Eliza Bennet" --

As the proverbial "they" say, one man's meat is another man's poison. I love pigeon, fish eyes and so many preparations and parts of pig. OTOH, have read about how tasty silk worms are but have baulked at eating them when I've seen them for sale in Beijing and Seoul. And eurgh re ram's or any other testicles!!! :D

Maya said...

I am someone that can spend hours on end in markets and grocery stores when traveling. I love to see what other cultures eat. However, I can't say that I am one to jump in and try the exotic. For the most part I am not too picky of an eater, but texture really gets to me. I've yet to try any kangaroo here in Australia, but that is more that I am afraid that the next time I run into a 'roo on the trail, they may sense that I ate their sister for dinner and come and box my ears.

YTSL said...

Hi Maya --

It's interesting that texture sounds like a negative for you whereas there are certain foods that appeal to me in large part due to their texture! :)

kitliew said...

What the heck is that? I don't mind trying provided I'm in full health. :)

YTSL said...

Hi Kit --

Er... read the last line in my blog entry to get the answer! ;(