7 disgusting looking Korean foods you should probably never try
Sometimes, we see or smell something disgusting — but for some reason, we want to know more about it anyway. Well, there's a whole slew of putrid-looking, creepy-crawling and all-around totally gross Korean dishes out there that you are probably morbidly curious about. If you hated kimchi, wait till you get a bite outta these concoctions!
1) Silk Worm Larvae
Often sold on the street as a snack, this popular Korean treat is actually just boiled silkworm larvae. You can choose to eat this little bugger by either sucking it out of the shell or consuming the whole thing, cocoon and all (or just run away from it like a pansy). Gotta have your protein, right?
2) Fermented Stingray (Skate Fish) - Hongeo
Like most fermented things, this particular item is no less stinky and foul-smelling than its well-known bean curd counterpart. Commonly sold in fish markets all around Korea, this nutritionally-dense “snack” actually does the fermenting process all by itself. Because the fish urinates through its skin (which is comprised completely of cartilage), the uric acid acts as a fermenting agent, causing good bacteria and probiotics to grow, at the same time preventing the fish from rotting. Supposedly, it has more probiotics than traditional yogurt — but the strong ammonia odor might just make you gag before you even manage to take a bite!
3) Gaebul 개불 – “Penis Fish,” Spoon Worm
This next amusingly NSFW eat is actually a type of worm that lives in the ocean. They are a staple at many local fish markets usually prepared raw with a drizzle of sesame oil and salt, and are said to have a consistency similar to oyster meat with a chewy texture. In Chinese cuisine, the worm is stir-fried with vegetables or turned into a powder to use in flavor enhancers — so next time you eat something particularly tasty, you might just be eating bits of this wriggly worm. These worms are also used as fishing bait. What a multipurpose creature!
4) Sannakji 산낙지 - Live Octopus
Sushi connoisseurs, it’s time to test your mettle. Since there’s nothing fresher or more terrifying than eating a live creature, the Korean delicacy of live octopus, or sannakji, is for serious thrill-seekers or foodie risk-takers only. There are two methods of octo-preparation: slicing up a live octopus for immediate comsumption, or simply shoving a whole baby octopus down the hatch. Beware of suction!
5) Haejangguk – Blood Soup
It’s unsurprising that Koreans love a good hangover cure after a hard night of partying and hitting up multiple karaoke bars. Their soup of choice? Haejanguk, a medley of napa cabbage, congealed cow’s blood cubes and vegetables in beef broth. If you’re already accustomed to eating organs like liver, stomach and tongues, maybe it isn’t entirely disgusting to you. Still, eating a cube of congealed blood isn’t in my book of cures when I’m trying my darndest not to hurl!
6) Duck Tongue
As a child, I remembered shopping in my local Assi Plaza supermarket and finding a whole packet of duck tongues right next to the pig feet and cow stomachs (truly a scarring memory). Apparently, duck tongues are quite tasty and also quite fattening, as they are usually served stir-fried, deep-fried or broiled in a duck stew. I just can’t picture myself eating a poor duck’s tongue though — how will it ever be able to quack again?!
7) Roasted Crickets
You're probably already familiar with the idea of roasted or seasoned crickets as a streetfood snack throughout Asia, and Korea is no exception. Crickets are packed with protein, making it an ideal pick-me-up snack. After being dry roasted in a vat, the crickets are then scooped up into a paper cup and eaten with bare fingers, not unlike eating peanuts here in the good ol' USA. Plus, no more annoying chirping at night!
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*BONUS* 8) Baby Mice Wine (country of origin: China)
Be happy you weren’t born a mouse — because you might just have met the same fate as these poor little suckers. To create this science-experiment like libation, baby mice are plucked from mum and drowned alive in rice wine to become the next beverage of choice to thirsty Asians. Hailed as a health tonic effective in curing anything from asthma to liver disease, the wine will often contain a heap of sad little mice-lings that have sunk to the bottom. Oh, and you are also supposed to eat the mice once you’re close to finishing the bottle. Talk about adding infants to injury!