Shanghai’s weirdest foods

Shanghai’s weirdest foods

Bees, sea worms and pig's tail: Just a few of the odd eats we tracked down round Shanghai

Although it's the people from Guangdong province who have the reputation for eating just about anything, Shanghai foodies are no slouches.

You can find plenty of weird eats around the city that you might actually enjoy if you know where to look.

For this list we stayed away from the shock value -- no sheep penis here -- and sought out what locals are actually eating.  

1. Honeybees (蜜蜂)

Shanghai’s weirdest foodsIndulge your "sweet tooth" with a bowl of deep-fried honeybees.

Wild honeybees are a traditional Yunnan dish. Locals go far into the mountains at night to find their nests.

The best preparation is deep-fried with salt and pepper, says waiter Zhou Zhirong, a member of Yunnan’s Hani minority group (哈尼族).

“They’re just delicious,” he says. “They’re naturally sweet and tasty.” 

Stop in at the Southern Barbarian on Jinxian Lu; they serve a tri-bug plate (RMB 108) which includes deep-fried honeybees, grasshoppers, and stick insects.

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's best Yunnan cuisine

Southern Barbarian, 169 Jinxian Lu, near Maoming Nan Lu 进贤路169号,近茂名南路, +86 21 5157 5510, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

2. Chicken and duck blood soup (鸡鸭血汤)

Shanghai’s weirdest foodsTrust us; it tastes better than it looks.

Chicken or duck blood soup is a common dish -- or even a treat in the past -- to Shanghainese. The dish is considered by many as a shi liao food, or food used as medicine.

“We believe that certain food choices can help your body,” explains Fu Chun diner Xiao Lirong, a Shanghai resident. Chinese people believe that drinking chicken or duck blood soup can enrich the diner's blood.

“Usually this kind of soup has a weird blood taste but this one is very fresh with a clean flavor. The blood chunks are very tender,” adds Xiao, referring to Fu Chun's blood soup.

A bowl of hot and yummy chicken and duck blood soup (RMB 3) is said to complement Fu Chun's renowned xiaolongbaos perfectly.

More on CNNGo: Best xiaolongbao restaurants in Shanghai

Fu Chun, 650 Yuyuan Lu, near Zhenning Lu 愚园路650号, 近镇宁路, +86 21 6252 5117, 6:30 a.m.-midnight

3. Cow stomach lining (牛百叶)

Shanghai’s weirdest foodsCow stomach lining is mostly flavorless, so the dish's taste depends on the sauce.
Cow stomach lining is a popular dish in China and it can be cooked in hot pot or fried by itself.

The chewy, rubbery stomach lining is hard to cook well, diner Xiao explains.

“It’s flavorless so its taste really depends on what spices you use,” she says.

“If it’s served as a cold dish, some people like it for its crunchiness.”

For fans of spicy food, try the cow stomach lining boiled in chili soup (水煮牛百叶, RMB 28) at Fu Chun. 

More on CNNGo: 35 Shanghai street foods we can't resist

Fu Chun, 650 Yuyuan Lu, near Zhenning Lu 愚园路650号, 近镇宁路, +86 21 6252 5117, 6:30 a.m.-midnight

4. Sea worms (海虫)

Shanghai’s weirdest foodsChinese cook sea worms with leek and garlic.

“If you hit this worm, it quickly recoils,” says Jiang Tao, a worker at Shanghai's Tongchuan Seafood Market as he prods the creatures. “Watch how water shoots out of it.”

This sea worm is best pan-fried with leeks and garlic and comes at the bargain price of RMB 2 per jin (500 grams). This is a novelty food even for dauntless Chinese diners.

More on CNNGo: The Shanghai Fish Market tutorial

Tongchuan Seafood Market, Tongchuan Lu, near Lanxi Lu 铜川路水产市场, 铜川路, 近兰溪路,+86 21 6265 8610. Market and restaurants open 24 hours.

5. Snake (蛇肉)

Shanghai’s weirdest foodsSnakes can be fried, boiled or marinated in rice wine.

Although not a seafood, snake is available at Tongchuan Seafood Market, one of Shanghai's biggest wet markets. The staff there are definitely not afraid of reptiles.

“You just step on it and grab it,” says one worker named Shun. According to Shun, the snakes they sell are caught in Jiangxi Province in the mountains.

“You can cook it any way, but frying with salt and pepper is the best.”

The snake sells for RMB100-400 per jin (500 grams).

For hot pot fans, the Golden Dragon Snake on Wuxing Lu is most renowned for its snake dishes.

More on CNNGo: Snakes on a plate: Japan's first reptile cafe

Tongchuan Seafood Market, Tongchuan Lu, near Lanxi Lu 铜川路水产市场, 铜川路, 近兰溪路,+86 21 6265 8610. Market and restaurants open 24 hours.

Golden Dragon Snake (金龙蛇), 26 Wuxing Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu 吴兴路26号, 近淮海中路, +86 21 6466 6918, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 4 p.m.-3 a.m.

6. Pig's tail (猪尾巴)

Pig's tails are commonly seen in Shanghai's wet markets.

“If someone’s drinking beer, they might go through three of these tails in one sitting,” says Shanghai diner Liu Yuyan. “The tail is good for your skin.”

Pig's tail is considered Dongbei food, originating in China’s northeast. Find marinated-in-brine pig's tails in those stalls selling ready made dishes in most Shanghai wet markets.

For a sit-down meal, head to A Ying Bao for a bowl of pig's tails stewed with soy beans (RMB 46).

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's best food deals: A 7-day guide

A Ying Bao (阿英堡), 239 Shanxi Nan Lu, near Tianjing Lu 山西南路239号, 近天津路, +86 21 6350 8719, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

7. Duck’s head (鸭头)

Duck's heads and wings are two of locals' favorite nibbles to go with alcohol.

Jiu Jiu Ya is one of the very few duck-specialized brands in Shanghai. 

Its red-colored duck's heads are stewed in a potent mix of 30 Chinese herbs and barley rice.

“It helps your own brain power,” says Jiu Jiu Ya staffer Qi Kouyang. “Pig brains are great, too.”

More on CNNGo: 6 hidden Shanghai restaurants

Jiu Jiu Ya (久久鸭), 160 Wanping Nan Lu, near Xingeng Lu 宛平南路160号, 近辛耕路, +86 21 6486 2430, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Schmitt is a Shanghai-based writer.
Read more about Kellie Schmitt