6 Strange Japanese Dishes   日本の怪しい食物

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Strange but true: the Japanese enjoy eating nankotsu - chicken cartilage!


When you try to eat natto, it forms long gooey strings!

As fresh as fish can get!

Basashi - raw horse meat

Inago - caramelized roasted insects often served as an accompaniment to rice

Challenge Accepted!

Dishes featuring strange foodstuffs: unusual creatures, slimy or even still alive, Japanese cuisine is considered bizarre by some foreigners. Everyone has their limits - what would make some cry, others can eat with no problem. Here are 6 dishes we challenge you to try!

Beginner Level

  • Natto: fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and distinctive smell. It is eaten with a little mentsuyu sauce, Japanese mustard (karashi) and often spring onions, all on a bowl of rice. Traditionally, the Japanese eat it for breakfast, but it's now not as popular.
  • Nankotsu: This is actually chicken cartilage (usually from the sternum) that is eaten in izakaya (bars) as yakitori skewers. They can also be deep-fried. The texture is very crunchy and slightly chewy.

Intermediate Level

  • Inago: these are slightly caramelized and roasted insects often served as an accompaniment to rice. This is not a very common Japanese dish.
  • Shirako: literally meaning "white children", shirako is fish roe still in its membrane. It is eaten raw.

Expert Level

  • Ikizukuri: fresh sashimi, very fresh... actually, still alive. The animal presented to you on your plate still moves and breathes, but its flesh is prepared for consumption. No need to worry about the freshness of the fish here! The ikizukuri octopus and squid are quite spectacular. 
  • Rebasashi: with a strong taste, viscous texture and oozing blood, rebasashi is raw horse liver. This is generally found in Kumamoto (Kyushu). This dish can also be found in the form of ice-cream!

The list is far from complete, but the rest may seem tame in comparison: wasabi beer, dried crab appetizers, pork placenta jelly, octopus ice-cream, marinated fish entrails, cucumber-flavoured Pepsi, snake sake, fried noodle sandwiches...

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