Almost everyone enjoys a good seafood meal. Grilled, baked, boiled or deep fried, humans have always considered seafood a luxury. For example, lobsters are often sold at hundreds of dollars per piece, and shrimp are a must have at weddings.
The sea however, holds plenty of creatures apart from the crabs, shrimp, clams and fish we’re used to seeing. some of these creatures look almost alien in origin, but apparently they’re quite delicious. Of course, this means that somebody, somewhere has turned them into a delicacy.
First things first, these are not ducks. They are nowhere near ducks and are in no way related to the quaking bird. Geoducks are actually large clams living off the coast of Canada and the USA. They can range in length from 15 cm to 20 cm and sometimes even longer.
Their most significant feature is a siphon or neck that stretches out from its shell. This is basically how the shellfish eats. The Geoduck is usually cleaned and then sliced into thin layers. They’re steamed and eaten with a sauce, or eaten raw as a sashimi.
Conch shells make for very pretty decorations. They’re large, intricate and shiny.But did you know that conch shells are actually the home of large sea snails? These sea snails are considered delicacies and are usually harvested to be cooked into soups and stews. The snail flesh is chewy, and some have compared it to squids.
3. Alaskan King Crab
The gigantic Alaskan King Crab looks really terrifying as its body is covered with sharp pointy thorns. This is why they are always handled using gloves. Just like the durian, this crab is worth the handling risk. The crab’s flesh is one of the softest and sweetest in the world. Usually, no sauce is needed as the crabmeat is just amazing on its own.
Lampreys are jawless fish that live in the sea. There are more than 15 species of lampreys and some of them are parasitic. They often attach themselves to other fish and literally suck out nutrients. Lampreys are eaten just like any other fish. Sometimes, lampreys attach themselves to rocks and gather small creatures from its surface for food. Lampreys are sometimes called vampire fishes, because of their habit of preying on other live fish.
5. Sea Urchins
If you looked at a sea urchin, you would wonder how anyone would want to eat it. Despite its thorny and painful appearance though, the Japanese have been having them as dinner for the past several thousands of years. In order to get to the soft, yellow flesh of the sea urchins or ‘uni’, the spiny needles are clipped off, and then the core is cracked open.
Uni flesh is then dug out and eaten raw as a sashimi, or place on rice and eaten as sushi. Koreans sometimes place the flesh into stews.
6. Spoon Worms
Spoon worms are also called Echiura and Gaebul. One of the few places that eat these worms on a regular basis is Korea. They’re harvested from the muddy stretches of beaches when the tide is low. These spoon worms are washed and both ends chopped off. The innards are squeezed out and disposed. The flesh of the spoon worm is usually eaten raw, but can also be grilled.
Monkfish are found in the deeper parts of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. They are actually a species of Anglerfish, which explains their huge eyes and dark color. Monkfish meat is quite highly sought after in many parts of Asia and Europe as its tender flesh. Many fine dining restaurants serve Monkfish, usually pan fried or roasted to bring out its flavor.
You can easily recognize a Monkfish at the shops by its flat head, dark or black colored body and a mouthful of sharp teeth.
8. Mantis Prawns
The Mantis Prown’s flat back portion reminds you of something quite unearthly, and usually when they’re caught and sold, they have an off white colour that’s almost translucent. This make them look like insects more than seafood. However, they’re pretty common in Southeast Asia where they’re often stir fried or grilled.
9. Shirouo no Odarigui
Odarigui is a special method of eating developed in Japan, and usually the Shirouo fish is the most common seafood to be eaten like this and are often of the Ice Gobi species. Shirouo are small, transparent fish which are eaten alive, while swimming in water and raw eggs. Usually, diners will pick up these fish with chopsticks and put them directly into their mouths. The live fish will be tossing and turning, which gives the dish its name. Odarigui literally means ‘dancing meal’.
10. Sea Squirts or Piure
From the outside, they look exactly like rocks. However, the outer shell is actually soft and it’s slowly cut off to harvest the bright red flesh inside. Piure are quite specific to Chile. However, some of it is exported to Sweden and Japan. Harvesting Piure requires great skill and practice. For the untrained eye, a block of Piure looks like bleeding rocks.
11. Alaskan Sea Cucumbers
Alaska seems to be the place where seafood is the most bizarre. Here, you’ll find sea cucumbers that have poky spikes. Just like regular sea cucumbers, these sea cucumbers can be dried out and then reboiled to cook it. These sea cucumbers have a chewy texture and are very versatile in the kitchen.
12. Horseshoe Crabs
Although they’re called crabs, they actually look nothing like crabs. On the top, they look like dark domes with a sharp long point sticking out. On the reverse side, they look a bit like crabs, but with more legs. Their flesh is dug out and stir fried with eggs and vegetables. This is a popular street food in Thailand.
We hope you’re adventurous and will go out and try as many seafood as you can. The fruits of the sea are after all very varied and interesting. If you’re into interesting foods and are visiting Malaysia, these are the night market dishes you can try.