Friday, November 24, 2017 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

Weirdest, Most Disgusting Japanese Foods and Delicacies

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is taste in the tongue of the diner? Common sense says it is. But tastes go deeper than personal preference and often reflect one’s culture! For example, there are many things that Japanese diners tend to love that Westerners find perfectly deplorable. From rotten fish to chicken ovaries, here are the most disgusting Japanese dishes you’ll ever find. Would you dare to try any of these?
 

Funa Zushi

This Japanese dish is a pretty big deal. In fact, it’s considered to be an important part of Japanese culture and cuisine. To the unaccustomed diner, however, it’s just about as nasty as nasty can get. Funa Zushi is the great granddaddy of sushi. It’s been around for a very long time… and I mean both the recipe and the dish itself. It takes up to five years to ferment a funa fish until it becomes funa zushi! The final aged product is a delicacy in Japan. But that definitely does not make it any tastier to other people.
 
Funa Zushi
Chicken Ovaries

Personally, I don’t want to think about the biology behind reproduction while I eat. And I definitely don’t want to eat reproductive organs! Chicken ovaries are essentially the undeveloped yolk, before the white and shell develop. Not-quite-eggs, makes it sound a little more appetizing. The preferred preparation is grilled on a skewer. If that sounds adventurous to you, you can make sure to try them when you visit Japan. Yum, yum.
 
Chicken Ovaries
Sea Urchin Gonads

If you want to one-up the grossness of chicken ovaries, sea urchin gonads will do the trick. Known as uni, this is the only edible part of the sea urchin and is described as having a “creamy consistency.” Make of that what you will. Uni is supposed to be quite delicious, but there’s something that just seems to wrong about eating gonads from any type of creature.
 
Sea Urchin Gonads
Shirako

Wait… isn’t that the name of a Colombian singer? Nope, that’s Shakira. Shirako is far less awesome than Shakira. This dish is worse than chicken ovaries and sea urchin gonads combined. What could be worse than that? Fish sperm. That’s what. Technically, it’s the milt or sperm sacs, served poached, fried or grilled.Could you convince yourself to try that?

 
Shirako
Squid Beaks

Calamari is pretty good. It’s better than onion rings, but it has that same great salty, crunchy taste. That’s about as much squid as most Westerners are willing to eat for dinner. However, in Japan, it’s easy to get squid beaks for cooking! The beak is all cartilage and usually thrown out when cleaning a squid. How in the world is that even considered edible?
 
Squid Beaks
Wiggling Squid

For dinner and a show, you can get a dancing squid meal. This is actually a very impressively-plated dish. Atop a lovely arrangement of rice and veggies is a fresh squid that has just been killed. Its head has been whacked off, but it’s upright and… dancing? Poke the tentacles to see their wiggly reflexes, or douse the whole thing in soy sauce. The saltiness stimulates movement, which makes the squid dance like a jazz dancer!
 
Wiggling Squid
Horse Meat

And not just horse meat. Raw horse meat. Served cold, almost frozen. This sashimi dish is called Basashi, and it’s one you may want to skip when you visit Japan, if you can’t get past the thought that you are eating a cute little pony. Horse meat does not belong on a plate next to soy sauce! Raw fish is one thing, but this? No thanks.
 

Squid Ice Cream

We all know that Japan loves sea food, but can’t we keep it off the dessert menu? The Japanese will put just about anything in their ice cream, from eel to curry to miso ramen. Ice cream is delicious, but not with chunks of cold squid mixed in. Thanks, I’ll take vanilla.
 
Squid Ice Cream
Shiokara

Fermented fish is a pretty popular meat in Japan. There are plenty of disgusting ways to eat it, but one of the grossest is Shiokara. Not only is this fermented fish, but it’s fermented fish guts. I don’t even want to eat fish guts when they’re not fermented. Yuck!
 
Shiokara
Natto

Speaking of nasty fermented dishes, stay far away from natto. This dish is sticky and stinky fermented soy beans. It is as gross as it looks! There are plenty of ways to eat soy beans without having to swallow this goop. But if you really want to try a classic fermented dish, this is a pretty safe one to start with.
 
Natto
Fried Bee Larvae

We all love honey. But did you know that you can also eat bees themselves? Adult bees are edible, but their fuzziness is a huge turn-off. Naturally, that leaves the larvae for human consumption. Deep fry them for a crunchy snack! That might sound gross to you, but many people around the world love this kind of food. Many cultures consider fried bugs a dietary staple. Just because Westerners don’t usually (make that ever) eat bugs doesn’t mean they are going to be disgusting… does it?
 
Fried Bee Larvae
Mozuku

Although the seaweed trend is catching on among vegans and organic eaters in the United States, mozuku is still very far away from becoming a dish outside of Japan. This seaweed food is slimy and slippery, and it looks like a hairball your cat just coughed up. As gross as it is, this is actually a very healthy food. Who knows? Maybe it will become more popular around the globe due to its health benefits. If you can stomach it, it’s a great addition to a good diet.
 
Mozuku
Fried Grasshoppers

Like bees, grasshoppers are perfectly edible. Just because they’re green and hop around doesn’t mean you can’t munch them to add protein to your lunch. In Japan, you won’t have to look far to find grasshoppers on the menu. Inago is a Japanese dish that is made of fried grasshoppers drenched in soy sauce! Of all the foods on this list, this is probably the least disgusting… as long as you eat it with your eyes shut and pretend it’s just popcorn. But it’s still pretty darn nasty. After all, it is a big plate of bugs!
 
Fried Grasshoppers
I hope you didn’t read this while you were eating lunch! Even though many of these are common dishes in Japan, they are enough to make other people lose their appetites. If you had to pick one of these dishes to try, which one would you pick and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
 

Think these foods are the only strange things about Japan? Check out the weirdest things sold in Japanese vending machines
 

5 Comments

  1. October 28, 2017 - 2:15 am

    Yes, I read this list while eating food. I kept scrolling and reading but at Shiokara I had to close the browser. I can never imagine myself eating guts of some animal even in my night dreams. I think doing tough stuff like this was what separated warriors from common people and Japanese kept their culture this way to toughen their warriors.

    Reply
  2. Cait
    October 29, 2017 - 9:50 pm

    I have actually had uni before. I am an avid sushi lover and I have to say that I could not overcome the texture. I really did try because I’m pretty much always down to try new things, especially when it comes to food! I would probably have a little bit of trouble with the fried grasshoppers, though. I don’t think I could handle putting an entire creature inside of my mouth, no matter whether it’s a bug or not! Seaweed is generally very good. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but…

    Reply
  3. Rachael Mills
    October 30, 2017 - 11:12 am

    These are gross, the fish sperm part really got to me. I have had a taste of fried grasshopper while on vacation in Africa sometime ago though.

    Reply
  4. Vicky
    October 30, 2017 - 11:28 am

    A big plate of bugs actually. Eating grasshoppers feel disgusting, though I learned it is a great source of protein, and if Japanese are happy with the meal, then I need not complain.

    Reply
  5. Richard G.
    October 30, 2017 - 2:52 pm

    I’m not convinced, not convinced at all! Thank God I became vegetarian!

    Reply

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