Who Wants Scorpion on a Stick?

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.

Lanting showing off her mad chomping skills.

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:

Yum, yum.

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.

Can you guess what this is?

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:

Yum squared!

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.

17 Comments

  1. now that’s what i’m talking about Jessie! thank you for showing me the money 😀 I totally would have stuck to everything you ate though. no(moving) kabobs for me thank you very much. you know, they have stinky tofu in HK as well. i wonder if it tastes the same as the ones in Beijing? guess you’ll have to tell me that as i’m assuming you’ll try the ones in HK when you’re there. i don’t remember who i said this to but i’m starting to come to the theory that all stinky food tastes yummy, and the stinkier the better…haha.

    i can’t believe they have peking duck in a candy store. well actually this is China after all, i’m not surprised. we just went out for peking duck with my family last night to celebrate father’s day (late) and the restaurant we went to didn’t do it very well. i was so disappointed. well looks like you’re enjoying yourself and all the good eats there. guess your next stop will be HK very soon so i hope you have a good trip. should only be about a couple hours ride eh? take care and safe travels my friend 😀

  2. Starting out on a positive note, the fruit kabobs sound wonderful! But now the scorpion and tarantula… ew, ew, ew………. I can’t imagine anyone finding that appealing even just a little bit. Looks like a good place for Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods to visit!

  3. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect food than fried milk.

  4. Haha, I totally agree with LeQuan. The fried scorpions = where the money’s at! Ummm…Chinese delicacies at their finest?! But your video tells all–and if I were you, I’d probably be repeating the same thing too: “Ew, that’s really gross.” Do people actually eat it while it’s moving? And why is it still moving if it’s deep-fried and supposed to be dead? Is it dead? WHY WON’T THE THING DIE?!?!?!

    These are questions I ask myself after reading your journey through Night Market. Perplexed you have me, Jessie.

    UMMMMM also let it be known the STINKY TOFU PWNS!!! WOOOOOOOOOO. So good. I bet it tastes EXTRA good in China though. 😀 I still can’t get over the tarantula. Do people actually eat these things in China? I’m sorry to sound so North American… 😛

    lots of love,
    Aletheia

  5. oh god, not me please! wow theres so many weird things people will eat. its funny cuz in British Columbia, some people are all about these maple syrup maple leaf shaped suckers that have a meal worm in the middle. lol WHYYYYYYY!!!! haha

    xoxo

  6. With all these fried foods, it seems to me that Jessie’s subconscious is increasing its ascendancy.

  7. Why would they be moving if they were deep fried? Is this something like a chicken running around after its head is cut off. i am seriously interested… and we all each shrimp – which is a sea centipede – more or less… so why not? It would gross me out, too. BUT, if so many eat them there, are their palates off, or do they taste good?
    🙂
    TRY ONE!
    Valerie

  8. Whoa, what an interesting and eclectic collection of foodstuffs 🙂 Makes me feel like a wimp – I don’t think I could handle eating most of those things! I need a stomach of steel methinks, it would make life more fun and exciting 🙂 Thanks for posting all those pics, we can live vicariously through you ha ha 🙂

  9. I think I just died a little inside after watching that video. It is kind of disturbing…why are they still moving?? And how could anybody eat something that is still alive and wiggling around like that? It gives me the shudders. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to interrogate you…those were rhetorical questions! And nonjudgmental of course…to each their own, if people like live scorpion on a stick 🙂

    Stinky tofu sure sounds gross…but you make it sound tasty so maybe its worth a shot!
    I don’t understand how it is even possible to fry milk, but I guess you can pretty much find anything fried these days. People fry pickles and ice cream, so why not milk?

    Glad you’re enjoying the cultural food! xox

  10. I’m amazed about all the things you can eat in China 😀 I never tried anything weird – at least I don’t think so but loved watching all the weird foods they had!

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