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Gelatinous duck blood? Mmm, mmm good!

July 6, 2010

Ducks blood

Well, Cambell’s may not be able to turn this one into an all-American favorite, but it’s certainly one of this American’s favorites! And trust me, as adventurous as I am with food, I never actually thought I’d love gelatinized blood of any kind. But Sichuanese cooking makes everything work!

There is plenty I love about eating in China–most of all how cheap it all is. I typically spend 10 kuai or less ($1.50 USD) on my meals at order-at-the-counter places, and about 30 kuai ($4.50 USD) at most sit-down, wait-staffed restaurants.

I am pictured above at Spice Spirit ( a swanky, well-decorated, relatively expensive restaurant. Some dishes range up to 90 kuai–almost $14 USD). I am eating one of their specialties, a famous Sichuan dish called Mao Xuewang, which literally translates to Mao’s (surname) prospering blood (you have to translate the link–can’t find anything in English). It consists of gelatinous ducks blood, tripe (intestine), and various vegetables floating in a spicy, oily broth with lots of Sichuan pepper. It is very, very spicy and very, very numbing.

The spiciness in Sichuan food is just like the spiciness in Mexican food, but its numbing (麻) quality is something totally different, and really interesting. Some people love it, some people hate it. I personally love it. Your mouth gets all tingly, like your lips and tongue are starting to fall asleep. If you just stop eating and let the sensation fill your mouth, your mouth waters up really quickly. Fascinating.

What does ducks blood taste like? Honestly, it’s kinda like tofu, but with more flavor. I didn’t taste any iron or metal-like flavors, but the broth was so flavor-packed that I can imagine it masked a lot of what ducks blood might actually taste like. Like tofu, it absorbed the flavors around it. But the texture was great.

The tripe was also surprisingly tasty, not elastic or chewy like other tripe I’ve had in Vietnamese Pho back home. Really very palatable. All this for a mere $5 USD!

While this is definitely the strangest, most novel dish I’ve had in China, there are still so many dishes I have left to try. We’ll see if I can top this.

If you like reading about Chinese food, I highly recommend the wonderful book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A sweet and sour memoir of eating in China, by Fuschia Dunlop. It’s what inspired me to start blogging in the first place; such a wonderful book with tons of descriptions of fascinating Chinese food.

Something so few in the US realize about Chinese food is that it’s incredibly diverse. Each of China’s regions has its own cooking style and specialties and ingredients and spices vary widely. Dunlop shows this brilliantly, and I’ll do my part to show you the taste I’m getting of Beijing and Shanghai.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2010 7:32 pm

    Great description, Morgan! I totally agree that we American’s have no clue about what most of the rest of the world eats!

    When I had the privilage of teaching DISC at the Excellerated Business School for Entrepreneurs in Hangzhou, China a couple of years ago, I’ll never forget the “healthy soup” served to me after a massage in one of their high end spa’s that contained chicken feet, intestines, etc – as you say. I didn’t ask for all the ingredients because I didn’t want to spoil the moment, but I have to admit it was REALLY tasty! I never suffered any aftermath of it either.

    Then I also visited Shenzhen where I was amazed at the shop windows displaying things to buy for your own health and sexual improvement like deer antlers and other very common items that we would never have a clue they could be good for us.

    And in an upscale restaurant in Hong Kong, the speciality was a seafood (can’t remember which kind right now) but prepared at the table in a flaming dish – and delicious! I also loved the popular noodle houses that have every type and combination of broth and ingredients imaginable! (Eating soup with chopsticks… let me know when you master that art!)

    Lots of love,
    Aunt Carol

  2. Cbuck permalink
    July 21, 2010 4:11 pm

    when i was in spain i ate gelatinous chicken blood and a lot of it
    i want to eat with you!!!!!
    the whole numbing thing is still confusing/unappealing

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