People in the West are accustomed to thinking of two kinds of animals – the ones you love and the ones you eat. However, this distinction does not cross over to the East, where most of the animals Westerners love are served for dinner. Check out our rundown of the six freakiest dinners that give the phrase pet food a new meaning.
1. Dog – Bosintang Soup (South Korea)
This highly prized dish is still served in traditional South Korean restaurants, despite a ban on dog meat in the country. Pieces of dog are boiled and mixed with green onions, leeks, ginger, garlic and Taro stalk. A particular mint herb known as perilla is also added to disguise the intense smell that dog meat produces when cooked.
While not exalted for its flavor, this dog meat dish is famous for its medicinal value in cooling the body and improving virility.
2. Horse – Basashi (Japan)
You may well have had sashimi at a Japanese restaurant before, but perhaps not like this. Raw horse meat is served with the sashimi and a drizzle of soy sauce on the side. If you go to a local bar around Japan, you could get this as finger food with your beer. And if that doesn’t scare you, the sweet and smooth meat is also used to make basashi ice cream.
3. Turtle – Guilinggao (China)
Also known as Turtle Shell Jelly, this dessert is a popular treat all over China. It consists of a powdered Golden Coin turtle shell mixed with medicinal substances which is then boiled for hours until all of the liquid evaporates, leaving the jello-like substance. Mass produced and even canned, this dessert is probably available at a Chinatown near you.
4. Tarantula – Fried Tarantulas (Cambodia)
Believe it or not, this dish is very popular with locals in Cambodia and has even gained something of a cult following among tourists to the country. A palm sized species of tarantula called an a-ping is caught locally and then pan fried by the hundreds. They are said to have great natural flavor, with only a pinch of garlic or salt added. These scary little treats cost around eight cents each.
5. Mouse – Baby Mice Wine (Korea)
This amazing concoction consists of rice wine mixed with fermented baby mice. According to local folk medicine, this stuff can help cure all kinds of ailments from asthma to liver disease.
To make it, days old mice babies who don’t even have hair or open eyes are dropped into a bottle of rice wine and left to sit for about a year. The finished product has been described as tasting like “roadkill mixed with gasoline”.
6. Snake – Snake Soup (China)
Eaten all over mainland China, this particular delicacy is most popular in Hong Kong. Here you can get snake meat so fresh, the snakes are still alive when you choose them. If you are a snake lover, you may want to avoid Hong Kong between November and April, when thousands of snakes are shipped in especially for eating. Many Cantonese believe the soup gives the body an inner coating to ward off colds and flu.