With greater awareness in society about animal welfare, it’s hard to imagine in today’s day and age restaurants still serve dishes featuring live animals for human consumption…
Patrons will pay handsomely for the privilege of chewing the life out of animals, plated up while their hearts are still beating, their lungs breathing and their arms and legs flailing in agony. Cruel?
You be the judge.
1. Frog Sashimi
Frog sashimi is popular in China, Japan and Vietnam and features live frogs served up partly filleted so that the heart is still beating, eyes blinking and the arms and legs writhing in pain on a cold plate as the diners dig in.
Bullfrogs are used for the dish and are alive when the order is placed. They are quickly sliced open and gutted in front of the customer who relishes the heart while it is still beating. Hmm…Welcome to humanity!
Even though many people have lost their lives to this Korean delicacy, eating live octopus still remains a popular gastronomic thrill. Sannakji consists of a small octopus, fresh out of the water, served whole with a dash of sesame oil.
The diner just picks up the squirming octopus, stuffs it in the mouth and chews the living daylight out of it before swallowing. However, the suction cups on the tentacles continue to function for a long time and can stick to the throat causing the diner to choke to death.
3. Casu Marzu
Sardinian cheese, Casu Marzu is decomposed on purpose by leaving it out in the sun to encourage cheese flies to lay eggs in it. When hundreds of larvae hatch and start feeding on the cheese, breaking the fat down and making it soft and oozy, it is ready for human consumption.
Some people remove the maggots before eating, but many prefer to eat them along with the cheese, all while shielding their eyes as the maggots leap to escape being eaten alive.
4. Noma Salad
We all know how important it is to wash salad greens to get rid of dirt and bugs hiding between leaves. But some people pay up to $300 for a plate of salad laced with ants. Yes, you read that right.
Initiated by the Noma restaurant in Denmark, the novelty is quickly attracting global fascination. The ants are chilled before plating to slow their movement and make them easier to catch and eat. They taste like lemongrass and ginger and are served crawling over lettuce leaves as a crunchy alternative to croutons, accompanied with crème fraiche.
5. Ying Yang Yu
Where this dish is concerned, ying and yang refers to ‘dead and alive’ fish. The fish is prepared quickly, taking care to keep the head intact and the internal organs undamaged, so that even after being deep fried, the animal remains alive for at least thirty minutes on the plate.
This is probably done so the diners can have the pleasure of witnessing the head and mouth of the fish moving throughout their eating experience. The dish is served with sweet and sour sauce.
6. Odori Ebi
Another one of those overly priced dishes people gladly buy for the thrill of eating an animal alive. Odori Ebi, however, goes a bit further.
This dish features baby shrimps prepared to order by quickly ripping the shell and the head off and deep frying them to be served alongside the rest of the body. The baby shrimp doesn’t really die until its thrashing legs and antennae are fully chewed up and swallowed. Eating babies? Really?
This Korean dish features live spoon worms cut into pieces and served while they are still alive and moving on the plate. The spoon worm or urechis unicinctus is a marine creature with a very unique appearance.
When eaten raw it has a mild flavour resembling oysters and is chewy rather than slimy. Gaebul is almost exclusively eaten in Korea and parts of Japan. The slow moving worms are eaten neat or dunked in a sauce for extra flavour.
8. Ricci di Mare
Ever found something so cute you could eat it? Well, the Italians take the expression literally when they go looking for sea urchins and find them so adorable they just gobble them up alive.
The edible inside of Ricci di Mare, as they are called in Italian, can be accessed using a special tool or a scissor. The roe is eaten alive with a spoon or licked straight from the casing.
Ikizukuri means ‘prepared alive’ and indeed the high price tag demanded for this Japanese item is for the chef’s expertise in filleting a fish without killing it. The fish is selected by the diner from an aquarium in the restaurant before a chef guts it and serves it immediately in front of the customer.
The fish is kept largely intact with the exception of a few pieces of the flesh sliced off skilfully to allow the diner to see the heart still beating and the mouth of the fish moving as it is devoured.
10. Drunken Shrimp
As the name suggests, this dish consists of live shrimp served in a bowl of alcohol, to intoxicate them as they try to escape a horrific death by human chompers. This dish originated in China where the shrimp are served in a bowl of alcoholic drink called Baijiu. The diners have to catch and eat them before they jump and escape. The crustaceans keep wriggling even after being swallowed. Some diners describe this as a pleasant feeling in the stomach.