Every place has its own unusual, yet satisfying and delectable dishes. Others might call them “acquired tastes.” Here is a list of Beijing’s five most unusual foods.
Chinese cuisine is renown for its use of the ocean’s bounty. From carp and snapper to squid and eel, the Chinese people have prepared and consumed a wide variety of seafood over the centuries. This trend continues today in Beijing’s night markets, where starfish is a common street food usually eaten on a stick. Crunchy in texture and salty in taste, this unique food is a popular snack.
Duck Blood Tofu
Not as commonly used in Chinese cuisine as pork blood tofu, duck blood tofu is nevertheless regarded as a tasty addition to hot pot or rice noodles. This dish has nothing to do with bean curd. Duck blood tofu is congealed duck’s blood that has a tofu-like consistency. Duck blood tofu has been the subject of its own food scandal in recent years, as some people have attempted to pass off pork or chicken blood mixed with chemicals as duck blood.
From spiders and crickets to centipedes and Madagascar cockroaches, insects are regarded as a delicacy in China and are happily consumed by many. In Beijing, scorpions and various insect pupae—like silkworm and bee—are very popular fare despite their reputation as unusual foods in western countries. Silkworm pupae are said to taste faintly briny with a chewy texture, whereas bee pupae are slightly sweet.
Considered a delectable luxury food in northern China, donkey meat is prepared in many different ways. It is very popular in a burger or sandwich after being slow-roasted for hours. Many describe this tender meat as sweet and flavorful, not unlike corned beef.
Perhaps the most unusual popular food in Beijing, rabbit head has made a comeback on the Chinese food scene in recent years. This Sichuan specialty is typically stewed or braised with hot chili and five-spice powder. Consuming rabbit head seems to have a learning curve, however, as many restaurants provide customers with instructions on how to best eat the dish, including cracking the skull and eating the brain.