March 2009 Archives
10. Chocolate Ramen Soup
The Japanese candy maker Lotte teamed up earlier this year with Ghana, the popular chocolate manufacturer to introduce the first ever chocolate flavored Ramen. If you've ever had Ramen noodles, you probably know there's nothing sweet about the spicy soup meal. The chocolate flavored Ghana Miso is nothing short of a bizarre combination of sweet chocolate with salty Ramen soup broth. What won't the Japanese do if it'll make for good marketing? Well, Chocolate Ramen Soup was available earlier this year in honor of Valentine's Day. Does that answer your question? If that sounds nasty, check out these normal Ramen noodle soups.
This spicy garnish is a traditional Korean favorite. You may be familiar with the popular side dish. You may even be wondering why this dish made the top ten most bizarre Asian foods. What you don't know about kimchi is that the spicy cabbage you're eating carries with it a unique zesty quality due in part to long periods of fermentation. That's right, kimchi is rotten cabbage. And any rotting dish that has managed to become as popular as kimchi makes our list.
8. Quail Egg and Roe Sushi
You might have tried quail at a gourmet restaurant. Maybe you even had the opportunity to try this smaller bird's egg cooked once or twice. But have you ever had one raw, wrapped in seaweed, and resting on a bed of raw flying fish roe? It's unlikely you'll see this on the menu at your local sushi restaurant, but it's likely to be available. If you're an old hat to Japanese sushi and you're feeling adventurous, request raw quail eggs the next time you visit you're nearby sushi bar.
7. Octopus Testicles
Alec Baldwin's Schweddy Balls have nothing on these fried Japanese delicacies. Taboyaki is deep fried in batter and consumed at some of Japan's most prominent national festivals. Don't let their donut appearance fool you: these balls are filled with fish shavings, ginger and - of course - octopus testicles.
6. Bird's Nest Soup
This Chinese soup's broth is literally made from the nests of Swiftlet birds. If you think that sounds odd, what makes this soup bizarre is the fact that Swiftlet's make their nest almost entirely out of their own sticky saliva. Anyone for more saliva soup?
Dubbed the 'king of fruits' in Asia, Durian is the most pungent fruit you will ever encounter. It's infamous smell is notorious to foreigners, and this unpopular smell has lead to the fruit king's banishment from Asian hotels and public places. Durian's smell has been likened to raw sewage. Yummy! Maybe mother nature had a deeper meaning behind making Durian's exterior shell spiked like a porcupine.
4. Sea Cucumber
Remember those sticky slimy sea critters you encountered on your grade school field trips to the aquarium? Well, the Japanese have been eating this oblong shaped gelatinous blob of an animal for centuries. If the texture and the look aren't enough to have you running for the hills, considering the sea cucumber's anatomy is essentially one giant gonad surely will!
3. Duck Embryo
What's with Asia and its egg delicacies? Full of embryonic goodness! Served still in its shell and known as Khai Luk in Laos this dish is the innards of a nearly mature duck or chicken embryo. Mostly available through Vietnamese street vendors, Balut is just as bizarre looking as its name suggests.
2. One Hundred Year Old Egg
This Chinese cuisine is made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a unique clay mix for months at a time. The process makes the egg yolk turn black, and is supposed to enhance the flavor of the surrounding egg white, which becomes clear and gooey. Whatever the change may be, century egg's are yet another bizarre Asian spin on a food we all grew believing came scrambled, fried or poached.
1. Stinky Tofu
Originally from Taiwan, stinky tofu is also a popular cuisine in China and Indonesia. What makes this fermented tofu dish top our list of bizarre Asian foods? Simply put, stinky tofu is one of the most pungent smelling, uniquely tasting foods anyone encounters. Even the native Taiwanese have mixed feelings about their regional tofu based cuisine. And, hey, if Andrew Zimmern - the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods series - can't even stomach the stuff, you know it's truly one of a kind. Stinky Tofu may be the most disgusting smelling food on the planet, but don't let it stop you from checking out these healthy Tofu Shirataki Noodle products.
We've had a lot of good times together: Late nights watching Conan O'Brien, picnics in the park, sneaking you into the theater. You were there for me during my worst snack attacks. When I found you, so calm and collected in the middle of an bustling Asian grocer, I picked you up and carried you home. I love you Pocky. But every relationship has its ups and downs. Don't take it personally Pocky, but these are the things I DON'T like about you.
Begin Pocky Rant
Rant 1: Men's Pocky
Where's the women's Pocky? I heart dark chocolate Men's Pocky. It's been a regular in my Asian snack rotation for years. Every time I pull out a box, someone exclaims, "Hey you're not a man!" as if I was somehow blissfully unaware a) that I'm a woman and b) that I'm eating Men's Pocky. The tagline on some boxes of Men's Pocky reads: "For the intelligent connoisseur who enjoys the finer things in life." I'm an intelligent connoisseur who happens to be a woman. Here's my tagline suggestion - "For the guy who think a bigger truck makes him a man." Guys, please be aware that Men's Pocky contains no testosterone. Ladies, for the time being, we'll have to settle for the pretty-in-pink Strawberry Pocky.
Rant 2: Pronunciation and Misspellings
Mispronunciation is perhaps the most egregious of Pocky crimes. It's not pronounced Pockey (like the pony from Gumby) - it's Pocky. Misspellings of the names, perhaps in attempt at cuteness, also pop up all over the place. Please don't write Pocki or Pockie and dot the "I" with a heart. How would you feel if someone misspelled your name? Fun fact: The name was changed to "Pocky", after the Japanese onomatopoetic word for the sound Pocky makes when bitten, "pokkin."
Rant 3: Pocky Snobs and Posers
There are three kinds of Pocky people: Plain Pocky lovers (me), Pocky snobs, and Pocky posers. Pocky snobs and Pocky posers should relinquish their rights to Pocky. Pocky snobs like to point out that they've tried every flavor of Pocky known to man. If you dare jump into a conversation about Japanese food with this person, prepare to be out-Pockied.
First sign you've come across a Pocky snob, if they start the conversation with, "When I was in Japan...." This phrase is not always indicative that you're in the presence of a Pocky snob. Perhaps the person just wants to tell you about their travels. But when they proceed to go on...and on...and on about the gap-year they spent in Tokyo and how they got to try all the rare forms of Pocky (like bluberry Pocky) that the unfortunate rubes in the States will never try, you've come across a Pocky snob.
A Pocky poser eats Pocky because it's a Japanese snack, not because it's sweet and delicious. Deep down inside, they don't even *Like* Pocky. They put Pocky on display like it's a trophy, but rarely open a box. The only time they nibble on Pocky sticks is when watching anime with their friends - never alone. Pocky posers like to make up odd flavors and tell you they've tried them, but when you google "Pickle-Peanut-Butter Pocky," you'll find there is no such thing. Sounds like a wonderful Pocky for pregnant women though doesn't it?
Rant 4: Pocky Imposters
There is only one Pocky in the world and it's Glico Pocky. Since Chocolate Pocky was first introduced in 1970's, imposters invaded grocery stores around the world. There's no mistaking those tasty Pocky sticks. If you've ever bitten into an imposter, you'll notice it's lacking the addictive crunch-and-sweetness quality that defines Pocky. Why even try? Nothing beats Pocky.
Thanks for listening to me rant. Vote on the next Pocky flavor! Or comment below with what flavor you want to see and your own Pocky rants. Try Pocky and other Asian snacks at AsianFoodGrocer!
Back to Black Black
Be forewarned, Black Black gum will likely be the most unusual flavored chewing gum you've ever experienced. First timers to Black Black will notice an intensely strong minty flavor. If this burst of taste and the accompanying caffeine aren't enough to wake those sleepy eyes, Black Black also contains an added punch of the Chinese extracts Oolong, Ginkgo, and Chrysanthemum flower, all of which are known to stimulate. Gum chewing thrill seekers, disillusioned day-traders, and sleep walking toilers alike; remember the lovely black color of Lotte's Black Black and recharge amid memories of a more bullish time. See our wide selection of Lotte's chewing gum at Asian Food Grocer.
The Skinny on Shirataki Noodles Are you a pasta lover struggling to find a low carb alternative? Shirataki noodles may be the answer. These Asian noodles come in three varieties: white, brown and tofu. Since the white shirataki noodles
are made from the konjac plant, a subtropical plant, these
noodles provide a high-fiber, low carb replacement to the
gluten and carb-heavy spaghetti products we know well in the US. For
those looking to increase their daily fiber intake, look no further
then the brown shirataki noodle. This shirataki comes packed with added calcium and iron for the health-conscious noodle lover. Finally, tofu shirataki noodles
contain high concentrations of protein by blending the konjac root with
the nutritious soy bean curb of tofu. This noodle works
great in sukiyaki dishes or vegetable stir fries.
Cooking shirataki noodles
is easy as long as you follow a few initial steps. Before you do
anything else, be sure you've rinsed the noodles thoroughly. When the
noodles are clean, parboil
(or partially boil) the noodles in boiling water for two to three
minutes - or until the noodles have softened to suit your tastes.
Simply add your favorite sauce or include the noodles with a sukiyaki
or vegetable stir fry of your choice, and enjoy! Keep in mind that shirataki noodles
can be long, so depending on how you're planning to prepare
them, you may want to cut them to more appropriate lengths.
Shirataki's health benefits are obvious. All of these asian noodle
types are vegan-friendly, gluten-free and the closest low carb
alternative to the wheat noodle available. If you've been holding off
that diet because it doesn't work with your high-carb noodle dishes -
look no further than our assorted varieties of shirataki. Asian Food Grocer is your source for shirataki noodles.
What Makes Green, Jasmine and Tie Yan Guan so Special?
If your morning routine has been that hefty cup of coffee for too long, consider an Asian tea alternative to improve your day-to-day health. A few Asian teas getting a lot of attention in the US these days include green, jasmine, and Tie guan yin(Oolong) tea varieties.
China and India have both known and praised the benefits of green tea for thousands of years. Both cultures have used the tea to treat all form of illnesses from minor headaches and influenza to chronic depression and cancer. Green tea is a proven cholesterol reducer, having been shown in tests to reduce your triglyceride levels. Switching to green tea is also advantageous for those interested in increasing their daily antioxidant consumption.
What makes it so special? It turns out that green tea has many redeeming nutritional qualities. One cup of Green tea contains high levels of Vitamin's C and E, boosting your immune system and general well being. More recently, scientific research has begun to prove even broader benefits associated with regularly green tea consumption. Studies like the 1994 Journal of the National Cancer Institute indicate green tea reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, some times as much as 50 or 60 percent. The Chinese used the tea's ability to kill bacteria as way to store food, and these same properties have been identified as helping to prevent tooth decay.
Jasmine tea is another healthy morning replacement to coffee. Jasmine tea eliminates free radicals, a quality that has been shown helpful in preventing cancer and aging. The benefits of Jasmine tea are also believed to include supporting a healthier circulatory system. Drinking Jasmine tea regularly has been associated with lower instances of brain strokes, heart attacks, thrombosis, and arterial sclerosis in individuals.
Finally, the Tie Guan Yin, or Oolong, variety of Chinese tea is yet another healthy hot beverage choice for those curious to discover Asian teas. Tie Guan Yin's high concentration of the Polyphenol antioxidant has also been linked to lower instances of cancer and illness in those who regularly consume it. Tie Guan Yin's significant Polyphenol levels also produce the unique flavor and soft texture characterizing this Chinese tea. Stock up on green, jasmine, and Tie Guan Yin teas, at Asian Food Grocer.