Many "strange" foods are actually very normal, depending on where you live and the culture around you. But as an Asian Australian with a predominantly Anglo Australian diet, there are plenty of amazing "normal" foods that fall into my "strange" category.
Anyway, here are three of my favourite everyday "strange" foods...
Japanese rice ball. There's nothing inherently strange about the rice, or the filling most of the time, but the presentation of a rice ball is novel and delightful if you live in Perth. I prefer a warm onigiri fresh from the kitchen, but packaged rice balls have a special plastic wrapping that keeps the seaweed away from the rice (so it doesn't go soggy) until you're ready to eat it.
I've been told my favourite onigiri filling is perhaps a little strange, even to people familiar with Japanese cuisine. I like umeboshi, aka. pickled plum.
Takeaway / CC BY-SA
When my family used to go for dim sum together, every now and then we'd order a cold duck and jellyfish salad. Jellyfish tentacles don't really taste of anything, but they have a light texture not too unlike the slightly crunchy connective tissue in a chicken drumstick. They take on the flavour of whatever they're prepared with, so it's perfect with fatty duck meat and sweet salad marinade.
I've not had a good jellyfish salad in many years. This is sad in its own way, but moreover, it represents that my family doesn't go for dim sum so often anymore that we would order a "strange" dish like this. That's the real shame.
An egg is an egg, but little quail eggs are a real treat. You can get them fresh in Chinese gourmet shops here; I think they might be an ingredient for steamboat. But I get mine pre-hardboiled in a can. When I make congee (rice porridge) or cream of mushroom soup (yep, the Western kind), I like to serve it up with quail eggs. The texture is a pleasure with both dishes, and the eggy taste mixed in with everything else is simply delectable.
The last time I used quail eggs in a dish was just a few weeks ago when my partner was feeling poorly (not COVID). It's a comfort food in our household.
And now three "strange" foods that are very rare in Perth...
You find this in Japanese as well as Māori cuisine, though my Māori friend gave me some stick about eating it, which goes to show you can't just stereotype a food as being favoured by a whole culture. He can't stand it. However, I liked it.
If you can imagine a eating chilled tongue that takes on a slightly crumbly texture when you chew it, that's sea urchin. I'm not sure if you can prepare it differently. I ate it cold. It was probably cooked and marinated, but it might not have been. Hard to say, as I bought it from a fish & chips van in Queenstown while rushing somewhere, and didn't get a chance to ask.
via SBS Food
This is an Egyptian dish made from the leaves of the jute mallow, one of the plants that garden twine is made from. It looks like a glossy dark green booger from far away, but when you stir it, it looks like it might have the mouthfeel of a saag curry (spinach curry). But it doesn't. Molokhia soup is slippery and hearty and delicious and, if you don't mind that sort of texture, very more-ish.
While leafy soup isn't particularly strange, I've been told that it's hard to find the necessary vegetable in Perth. My very foodie Egyptian friend has managed to find one shop in Perth that sells it.
via Brandon Schabes (flickr)
This is a food I would not choose to eat again. I had it when I was a kid, before my family moved to Australia. Perhaps it was a farmed produce where I grew up, or sustainable once upon a time, given the small population where we lived. But I was way too young to know about that back then, and I'm pretty certain it's not sustainable today.
As an adult, I still remember the taste and texture. Weirdly, even though I didn't love it when I was a kid, there've been times over the years where I've actually craved it. But given that so many turtle species are endangered, it's just not worth eating this again.
What are some of the strange things you've eaten? If you've written a blog post about it too, drop a link below so I can go check it out.
If you fancy reading something else while you're here, why not take a look at my current sweet romance WIP, The Guy From The Wedding.
The Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Check out more posts from this week.