Chinese people eat whales

Bizarre Food in Japan: Can You Eat Natto, Whale & Co. ?!

Because natto is quite sticky, it is sold in ready-to-eat portions in styrofoam containers. It is now also available frozen in many Asian markets in Germany.

Video: Whether you just try natto out of curiosity or if you have fallen for the smelly soybeans with skin and hair - this is how you tame the long natto threads with chopsticks!

As is often correctly suspected in Japan, many foreigners do not like natto - others love it. Opinions are definitely divided about the stinky soybeans ... even among the Japanese.

Shirasu: Baby Fish Massacre

Shirasu (シ ラ ス) is a collective term for various juvenile fish, for example from anchovies, sardines or eels. The fish are usually less than 2 cm long and are served in the hundreds - a real baby fish massacre.

Shirasu is served raw, cooked or fried in batter as tempura. When raw, the fish are mostly transparent and glassy, ​​cooked then white - which not only reminds a little of maggots when looking at the photos ...

Shirasu is a taste and motor challenge: you have to get the dozen slimy little fish on your chopsticks before you can force yourself to swallow them.

Would you like a shot of fish milk with your coffee?

No, the Japanese did not set up any underwater farms in which fish are milked in barn-keeping. We will now drive out this halfway comical idea with reality: fish-milk, Shirako (白子), denotes fish sperm!

The seed sack is taken from male salmon, tai sea bream or cod fresh after being caught. The puffer fish, famous for its toxicity, also produces its sperm as a completely non-toxic delicacy. Shirako is eaten raw or fried.

Since fish eggs often end up in sushi abroad (and caviar is also internationally popular!), It is not really surprising that the sperm of fish is also consumed in Japan. However, some Japanese men should find it difficult to eat Shirako - at least so unanimously all Japanese women in the JAPANDIGEST editorial team.

Culinary parade of sea monsters: sea cucumber and sea pineapple

In Japan, everything that comes from the sea can be eaten. Really everything, even the most unsightly animal. And yes, despite their names, the sea cucumber (Namakoナ マ コ) and the sea pineapple (Hoya ホ ヤ) Animals! We don't want to discriminate between the two of them just because of their looks - after all, there is a lot to criticize about their taste!

If the sea cucumber is not eaten as sashimi or cooked, its entrails are salted and as Konowata (海 鼠 腸) served. In the prefectures of Aichi and Mie in particular, sea cucumber innards are traditionally a ... delicacy.

The sea pineapple, on the other hand, is popular not only in Japan, but also in Korea. In Japan it is served as sashimi. The raw sea pineapple, cut into strips (and rubbery and difficult to chew!), Is dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar - and then swallowed as quickly as possible so as not to get any of its ammonia-rich taste.

Shiokara: The long lingering taste of salty fish offal

Shiokara refers to fermented offal from various sea creatures. The Kanji 塩 辛 mean salt and seasoning. Anyone who has tried Shiokara once knows why: The salty, penetratingly spicy taste of the fish innards digs deep into the palate and tongue and makes no move to disappear again.

That is why the Japanese have also developed a strategy to “enjoy” Shiokara: The fermented intestines are swallowed as quickly as possible without chewing and their taste is then washed away with pure whiskey. Cheers.

It couldn't be fresher: if the sashimi is still alive

In Japan, what has just been caught is considered particularly fresh. Ikizukuri (生 き 作 り) means prepared live - and it is not uncommon for the fish to gasp for air while eating this dish.


Video: To maintain freshness, ikizukuri is often served on a bed of ice.

Medium-sized fish such as the tai sea bream are stunned with a blow to the head after being caught and then filleted alive. Allegedly, the fish no longer feel anything from the cuts. The body structure from head to back to the tail fin is retained, the fine sashimi strips can be removed from the fish and eaten.

Russian roulette: a deadly bite of puffer fish

The fact that the poisonous puffer fish is eaten in Japan is just as much a part of the most common clichés about Japan as the longstanding training of puffer fish cooks. In fact, everyone involved in the Fugu is involved in presenting licenses to handle the animal.

In most Fugu species, the skin and organs contain the poison tetrodotoxin, the consumption of which can lead to respiratory paralysis and thus death. The non-toxic muscle meat of the fugu is served as wafer-thin sashimi.

To this day it has not been clarified how the poison originates in the puffer fish. However, it is now possible to breed non-poisonous puffer fish. Since diet determines whether or not the fish produce poison, the fugu likely produce their poison from substances found in their environment. As a food, non-toxic fugu are not really attractive: after all, the meat has little flavor of its own and is eaten mainly for the deadly thrill.

Whale Meat and Whale Bacon in Japan: Politically Controversial

Japan's whaling program is international, but also controversial in Japan. When asked, many Japanese say that they are not particularly interested in whale meat. Nevertheless, it is offered in some school canteens and is quite present in everyday life.

So you can occasionally see whale meat in restaurants in the display with the plastic models. Whale meat is very fatty, so it is not only served as sashimi and steak, but also as bacon - Kujira bēkon (鯨 ベ ー コ ン).

Apart from the mostly high heavy metal pollution, the disgusting aspect of whale meat mainly constitutes the political and moral frowning upon whaling - at least among most Europeans.