I don’t … but some people do!
For those of you who have been to Beijing, you have probably visited the famous Wangfujing Night Market, home to foods both crazy and delicious (and sometimes both). Deep fried scorpions and starfish, stinky tofu, and fried milk are all staples of this major shopping area, as well as more normal foods such as lamb kabobs and sugared fruit. I was thrilled to visit this exciting street about a week ago. Let’s take a food tour, shall we?
Starting with something relatively normal: fruit kabobs dipped in a simple syrup and allowed to harden. A delicious start to our gastronomic explorations.
The fruit was wonderfully sweet with a hard candy coating, but I could only nibble a few sugared grapes before they started tasting sickly sweet.
After our fruit kabob, we spied something a little more unusual:
Yes, scorpions (and starfish) on a stick! The vendors deep-fry them for your delectation. I didn’t actually see anyone order scorpion (or any other crazy kabobs) while I was in the Night Market, but some of my classmates did on a later visit. The strangest part of these kabobs (besides that fact that they are scorpion KABOBS) was that the scorpions were still moving. If you’re feeling really brave, check out this video of the scorpions moving, as well as some shots of the Night Market:
Speaking of yum, I finally sampled a food I had been longing to taste: stinky tofu! Stinky tofu is a fermented tofu that smells just how it sounds. Usually stinky tofu can be smelled for hundreds of feet around, but the vendors have toned down the smell in the Night Market, probably to prevent potential customers from keeling over as they approach.
Giving stinky tofu a skeptical sniff:
Let’s chow down!
How was it? Delicious! Stinky tofu does not taste anything like it smells. The outside is firm and crispy and the inside is soft and smooth. Instead of tasting bland, the tofu is flavorful from the fermentation process (as well as from the heaps of scallions and hot sauce on top). If you’re ever in this part of the world, give stinky tofu a try! All you have to do is follow your nose 😉
We passed by a few interesting stores on our stroll through the Night Market, including this candy lover’s heaven:
I surprised to find this bag hanging on the wall:
Yep, that would be the regional special, Beijing Kao Ya (Peking Duck), hanging on a rack in a candy store. I think I’d rather eat my Beijing Kao Ya piping hot, served fresh in a restaurant with green onions and special sauce.
I had to stop by the booth serving many types of fried delicacies.
After perusing the selection, I decided to sample the fried banana, fried ice cream, and fried MILK (pictured above). The vendor plucked one of each food from a plate and briefly submerged them in boiling oil. Mmm-MM! Double fried.
Lanting showing off the goods:
From left to right: fried banana, fried milk, fried ice cream.
Giving a tentative nibble:
The fried ice cream and the fried milk tasted mostly like fried dough with a moist center – not delicious, but not too terrible either. However, the fried banana was tasty 🙂
We looked at a few of the other unusual kabobs, such as tarantula:
And some sort of lizard (which the hi-larious vendor jabbed into my hand as I was distracted from taking a picture of something else. Har har.):
Yep, an exciting trip overall 🙂
P.S. This post is duplicated at my Beijing study abroad program blog here.