May 25, 2015
Singapore truly is the land of amazing food, more than you can imagine. From the infusion of settlers from all over the world, especially Asia, these travelers have also brought with them their exotic and bizarre foods, commonplace from where they came but unique to our little island.
Here we present some of these seemingly bizarre dishes that you can find in Singapore, and hope you give them a try if you have the stomach for it.
Sananakji (live octopus) is a wildly popular dish found in Korea but I didn’t expect to find it right here in Singapore. Now, you don’t have to fly all the way to Korea to eat this! The mere imagination of putting the slimy, wriggling and still-alive chopped up pieces of octopus in my mouth reminds me somewhat of Fear Factor.
Notwithstanding the possible choking which could happen when the tentacles’ suction cups stick to your throat, live octopus is actually pretty delicious and it also helps with blood sugar levels. For those who would love to tackle this dish, remember to always consume small pieces. This greatly reduces the chances that you might suffocate to death from a lone piece of tentacle stuck to your throat.
Get your fix of Live Octopus:
Yes, even the crocodile claws are included in the dish. Once you get over the fact that you’re nibbling on a deadly cold-blooded animal’s paw, the crocodile paw actually tastes surprisingly normal. Some people have even likened it to sea cucumber. I, on the other hand, see certain striking similarities between eating a crocodile paw to munching on chicken feet. No doubt that the crocodile paw is a majorly up-sized version of the chicken feet.
For those who have tried chicken feet, I see no reason why you’ll shy away from attacking the crocodile paw. Also, if you need justifications for trying crocodile paw, you’ll be pleased to know that crocodile is chock full of health benefits – like boosting libido.
Get your fix of Crocodile Paw:
The mushy, brain-like structure you see in the picture above is none other than sperm-filled fish male genitalia (milt) or, as the Japanese term it, Shirako (white children). Well, when I first heard about the existence of such a dish being served in Singapore, my reaction was a simple ‘eew’. Why would anyone want to eat fish sperm?
Then I found out that it wasn’t so different from the ‘normal’ female roe which are commonly found served on top of sushi. You know those cheery orange fluid-filled delights? Yup. Shirako, similar to fish roe, is rich in micro nutrients, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and even vitamin B12. If you have the balls to stomach milt, there are a couple of Japanese restaurants which serve this delicacy, who are known to fully utilize the entire fish.
Get your fix of Cod Fish Sperm:
*Getting a booking at Teppei is extremely tedious though as there are multiple steps due to the high demand
Get your fix of Puffer Fish Sperm:
Mmm, how yummy does ‘pig’s stir-fried fallopian tubes’ sound to you? I’m betting that to a pig’s intestines aficionado, it sounds extremely appealing. Even though you’ll probably be psychologically disturbed by the fact that you’re chomping on a pig’s female fertility part, there is nothing to fear about the taste and texture of this quirky dish. All I can say is that it is slightly firm and springy; flavoured entirely by the sauce it was stir-fried with.
Traditionally, the consumption of pig’s Fallopian tubes have also been believed to help with women’s fertility. I mean, it isn’t difficult to see why that might be the case but this belief has not been scientifically proven. I say, take everything with a pinch of salt.
Get your fix of Stir-Fried Fallopian Tubes:
Steak Tartare features minced, raw beef that is often topped with an aesthetically pleasing egg yolk. It’s normally seen in French or Italian restaurants, and not as uncommon as you think. This will probably appeal most to those who like their steak really rare. Like all raw meats, there are health concerns; such as contamination of the beef by bacteria or parasites. Due to the tight meat structure of beef, this is one of the rare meats you can eat freshly raw like fish (poultry and pork on the other hand tend to harbour more dangerous organisms).
Still, pregnant woman and those who have weak immune systems are highly discouraged from attempting steak tartare.
For all the daring others though, there are a number of restaurants in Singapore which have this dish on their menu. Just make sure that your stomach is up for it, though.
Get your fix of Steak Tartare:
It takes a brave soul and utter trust in the chef for one to put a piece of fugu (pufferfish) in the mouth. There is no antidote available for the poison contained within the organs of the pufferfish and death usually painfully occurs through conscious suffocation.
Not that there is anything to excessively worry about because chefs who prepare fugu need to have undergone at least three years of training and then be legally certified before they are allowed to serve the dish. But sometimes, accidents do happen, so eat at your own risk.
Get your fix of Pufferfish:
Eating the web of a goose might sound weird to many people and even some Asians, but braised goose/duck web is a very popular dish in Hong Kong especially. Waste not want not, right? When cooked right, the web is soft, tender and falls off the bone easily as you chew it in your mouth.
Eating webbing supposedly makes you a better swimmer, as the Chinese proverb goes: 以形补形, roughly translated as gaining the benefits of eating something physically similar to what you want to improve.
Get your fix of Goose Web:
In traditional Chinese medicine, deer penis is considered to be an aphrodisiac – a substance which enhances sexual desire and drive when consumed. It is commonly thought of to be beneficial for the males during their bedroom activities. Men in Singapore will be pleased to know that this soup can be found locally. If they are not too concerned with putting a penis in their mouths, that is.
Get your fix of Deer Penis Soup:
Imperial restaurant also has a braised crocodile tail if you thought eating the crocodile’s paw wasn’t weird enough. Crocodile meat as you can imagine, is on the tougher side so many restaurants opt to cook the softer regions as a delicacy.
To rid the gamey taste or crocodile, herbs are added and the meat is slow cooked. Some people say it kinda tastes like chicken.
Get your fix of Crocodile Tail:
A simple look at the pieces of brain floating around in soup might be enough to send some recoiling back in disgust. To be honest, the sight does remind me of certain horror movies. However, as my grandmother would naggingly remind me, the pig’s brain is actually highly nutritious and is believed to aid in mental capabilities. Seems like it could be useful for the numerous examinations students have to go through.
If you’re squeamish but still want to enhance your smarts, simply drinking the soup will suffice. You don’t have to dig your teeth into the mushy white mess.
Get your fix of Pig’s Brain Soup:
In addition to the availability of shark’s fin soup in Singapore, there is also shark’s meat which fully utilizes the shark as well. The taste of this deadly sea predator has been likened to that of a cross between a chicken and an alligator – but just a tad more chewy. Even though there have been concerns about the meat containing particularly high levels of mercury, shark meat still remains popular amongst enthusiasts. I personally suppose a little bit of shark’s meat once in a while wouldn’t hurt.
Get your fix of Shark’s Meat: