Thursday, June 04, 2009

Chicken + Poisonous Snake = Mildly Toxic Deliciousness

As the never-ending list of incredibly imaginative, exotic, and perhaps cruel dishes continues, I've found a new one that takes the cake: "Snake-bite Chicken". The worst part (or best part) about this dish is that the only way I've found out about it is from an article on the BBC telling of its recent prohibition.

The outrage is due to the irregular slaughter of the chicken in preparation for the dish. As one may guess by the name, the chicken is killed by allowing a poisonous snake to bite it until it ascends to the great chicken coop in the sky. Evidently this makes the chicken taste more delicious. (And here we are in the States still using clumsy methods such as knives...)

Excerpt from the BBC article:
Restaurants in China have long specialized in exotic dishes which have provoked condemnation from animal rights activists and health watchdogs - such as monkey brains scooped from a live animal, civet cat and deer foetus soup.

Question: When the article says the "monkey brains are scooped from a live animal", do they mean they're scooped from a live monkey, or do they scoop the monkey brains out of some other live animal?

The deer foetus soup is a new one for me by the way.

All this to say that eating dog in China is technically illegal as well, but is readily-available in many restaurants and at almost any wet market it the South. It seems as if these laws are put in place more for the pacification of the international community rather than intending to ever be an actual binding law. Whenever the world becomes up in arms about a dish deemed cruel or a violation animal rights, China wholeheartedly agrees with its accusers, bans the dish, and looks the other way in its practice. Who says you can't have your snake-bite chicken and eat it too?

People who don't enjoy watching chickens bit by snakes should avoid watching this video.


steve said...

Have you tried the dish? Why do you suppose the venom makes the poultry taste better.

Simon Lesser said...

Unfortunately it's a Guangdong delicacy, and not really available around these parts. I really doubt it makes the chicken taste any better or changes the taste at all. But I can't say for sure I guess, and I definitely can't explain the rationale for this cooking method, other than being exotic for exotic's sake.

Matthew said...

That's one I never saw on the menu in Shenzhen (or maybe I just didn't go to enough Cantonese restaurants because it's my least favorite Chinese food).

I also had no idea serving dog was illegal in China. Never would've guessed considering how often I saw it on the menu.

Les Lesser said...

There are two kinds of snake venom. One acts on the nervous system and induces paralysis and the other acts on the muscles and the turns them into mush. If it were the latter batter of venom, it'd be like an instant tenderizer! Sweet mush chicken