7 Live Animals You Can Eat in Restaurants
Most of you will have tried an oyster in your lifetime. As it was shucked from its shell, burnt with Tabasco and lemon, and hurriedly gulped down your throat, the awareness of its living status will have challenged you with a complex sense of novelty. Well, oysters didn’t make this list, but many of the consumers of the following dishes are inspired by that same culinary bravado. Through the meaty voyeurism that throbs from this article, we offer you an indulgence that spares you the guilt of first-hand murder. Enjoy – your hands are clean.
#7. Bullfrog Sashimi
Though the dish is centuries-old in Japan, bullfrog sashimi is still available in select restaurants. The frog is often prepared in front of the customer, to dazzle and amaze, as the chef clinically removes the head and front legs, then skins the rest of the body.
The meat is then diced and plated, chilled with ice cubes. The upper half of the frog remains intact, staring back at the customer as a constant reminder of what they’re eating. A true professional completes the process fast enough that the frog blinks at you while its arms twitch and writhe.
It’s debatable how much the frog really knows at this point. Although it’s a gruesome sight, its lifelike movements could potentially just be the last spasms of a corpse.
The video below shows the process from start to finish.
#6. Drunken Shrimp
We’re sure for most readers this is a far more bearable indulgence, in no small part due to shrimps’ lack of expression. Where other captured animals may scream or wriggle in such a way that we can anthropomorphize, a shrimp’s sentience is barely visible through its ticking leaps at freedom.
Consumer conflict is further diluted in the preparation phase of this dish, when baijiu’s added – a spirit the strength of vodka. It’s poured into a bowl that the shrimp are then sealed in, meaning that by the time they reach your table they really don’t give a fuck.
This is supposed to stun the shrimp, although results vary. Save the deader looking ones for the squeamish in your group, most are still active as they’re torn from their shells, meaning that the knowledge of the kill is irrepressible.
Drunken Shrimp consumption is increasingly discouraged, due to its links with a parasitic infection known as paragonimiasis. 22 million people a year suffer from the illness, and often in China, where the meal can most commonly be bought. Cooking the shrimp conventionally almost always eliminates the parasitic threat, revealing a karmic beauty that can only truly be appreciated after spending 72 hours on a toilet bowl.
#5. Coconut Worm
Also known as Sago Delight for the sago palm tree in which it’s found. The coconut worm is most commonly eaten in areas of South East Asia. Tourists and locals delight in the novelty of the meal, as it wriggles voraciously in the bowl in which it’s served, often soaking up a generous puddle of soy sauce or vinegar.
The darkened end is predictably the creature’s head, also eaten, or awkwardly ground off as you attempt not to let your gag reflex kick in.
If you can get past the rubbery exterior of what is actually a weevil larvae, the interior is creamy and sweet, likely due to its coconutty habitat. For the uninitiated, it’s little comfort – you still have a wriggling ball of pus in your mouth.
#4. Casu Marzu – Maggots in Rotten Cheese
Found in Sardinia, the product is formed by removing a chunk of rind from Pecorino cheese and leaving it exposed to flies. They lay over five hundred eggs at a time on its surface, meaning that when the fortunate hatch into maggots, the cheese becomes a home. The product then slowly decomposes as it mixes with the maggots’ digestive enzymes, creating a much softer, intermittently liquid, product.
When the cheese is ready to eat, it will most commonly be sliced up and served on bread. It’s advised to hold a hand over the cheese until it reaches your mouth, as the maggots are known to jump up to six inches when disturbed.
Some forego eating the maggots entirely, placing the cheese in a paper bag to suffocate its inhabitants. As they desperately jump, they hit the bag, creating a shower of noise similar to the cooking of popcorn. Once this ceases, they’re assumed dead and the cheese is eaten.
It’s kind of baffling why such an effort’s made, considering the cheese is so overpowering it burns the tongue and can leave an aftertaste for hours. The maggots are the best bit.
Due to health risks, legality of Casu Marzu distribution has shifted back and forth over the years. However, it’s considered an important part of Sardinia’s cultural heritage, meaning a market has endured.
#3. Dead-and-Alive Fish
In happier times it was simply known as carp, but within moments of your order it will become dead-and-alive/Yin Yang fish. From start to finish, the chef has less than two minutes to get it to the customer, to make sure the last gasps are viewable.
A wet cloth is placed over the animal’s head to encourage breathing. The chef then gets to work with his knife, scraping away at its scales.
Multiple slices are made to the body, which allow for speedy cooking and flavour penetration, and out go the guts. At this point everything dies but the head, being the only part not submerged in hot oil. The cloth still protects it, shielding it from splash-back. And finally, a sauce is poured over the fish, welling in its deep-fried wounds.
The diner is then left to assess the chef’s proficiency as they pick apart the fish’s body. If the mouth does not move, the preparation has taken too long. Either way, the earlier slices mean the meat breaks off as conveniently as porcupined mango.
The following video shows a competition in China in which chefs compete to make the quickest Dead-and-Alive Fish.
#2. Sannakji- Octopus
Prevalent in Korea, the practice of eating live baby octopi has an archaic legacy of boosting strength and endurance. In practice, this boost is needed for the eating process itself, as choking is a serious concern that has led to several deaths.
The animal is brought to the table in a small puddle of water. From this, the consumer will pick it up by the head and drain excess fluid from its body, wringing the tentacles out like a wet clump of hair. The true aficionado will then wrap and pin the creature down and around two chopsticks, before dipping it in sesame seed oil and placing it in their mouth. At this point the battle begins, as the octopus, completely aware of its fate, begins to panic and writhe as teeth clatter down.
As it’s uncooked, the amount of spring in the meat is a huge obstacle, meaning that breaking it down into smaller pieces can take an uncomfortably long amount of time. Most people give up after a few quick, commanding bites and attempt to swallow what’s left in its entirety. This means that tentacles cling to what they can in the mouth and the oesophagus, creating a pretty unique sensation.
Another, arguably safer, technique is to initially place only the head in your mouth. The tentacles then struggle freely around your face. While mashing the head, you must attempt to ignore the tentacles sucking to any space on your face they can, stretching as far up as your nostrils.
At this point it’s common to wonder why you didn’t just go for the chokier method.
#1. Three Squeaks – Baby Mice
This dish is closely associated with Guangdong province, China, and locally known as San Zhi Er, which translates roughly to Three Squeaks. It gets its name from the three stages of the eating process. First, the rodent’s picked up; second, it’s dipped in an accompanying sauce; and third comes the death chomp. For every bewildering step, the mouse will squeak.
The mice are as newborn as possible. This means that both hair and bone development is at an absolute minimum, making it all considerably more palatable. It takes little to no effort to crunch down on, requiring pressure comparable to a pretzel. As a result, whatever horrific pain the mouse feels lasts only one or two chews before it’s gifted death. They are small enough that the consumer can comfortably savour the warm meaty putty for several more rounds of grinding without any concern for messy overflow. And if you really focus hard on that whole humane thing about the swiftness of death, you feel like much less of a shithead – for a few seconds.