6 Pets You Can Eat In Asia
June 7, 2010 | by Bill Lehane

People in the West are accustomed to thinking of two kinds of animals – the ones you love and the ones you eat. However, this distinction does not cross over to the East, where most of the animals Westerners love are served for dinner. Check out our rundown of the six freakiest dinners that give the phrase pet food a new meaning.

1. Dog – Bosintang Soup (South Korea)

This highly prized dish is still served in traditional South Korean restaurants, despite a ban on dog meat in the country. Pieces of dog are boiled and mixed with green onions, leeks, ginger, garlic and Taro stalk. A particular mint herb known as perilla is also added to disguise the intense smell that dog meat produces when cooked.

While not exalted for its flavor, this dog meat dish is famous for its medicinal value in cooling the body and improving virility.

2. Horse – Basashi (Japan)

You may well have had sashimi at a Japanese restaurant before, but perhaps not like this. Raw horse meat is served with the sashimi and a drizzle of soy sauce on the side. If you go to a local bar around Japan, you could get this as finger food with your beer. And if that doesn’t scare you, the sweet and smooth meat is also used to make basashi ice cream.

3. Turtle – Guilinggao (China)

Also known as Turtle Shell Jelly, this dessert is a popular treat all over China. It consists of a powdered Golden Coin turtle shell mixed with medicinal substances which is then boiled for hours until all of the liquid evaporates, leaving the jello-like substance. Mass produced and even canned, this dessert is probably available at a Chinatown near you.

4. Tarantula – Fried Tarantulas (Cambodia)

Believe it or not, this dish is very popular with locals in Cambodia and has even gained something of a cult following among tourists to the country. A palm sized species of tarantula called an a-ping is caught locally and then pan fried by the hundreds. They are said to have great natural flavor, with only a pinch of garlic or salt added. These scary little treats cost around eight cents each.

5. Mouse – Baby Mice Wine (Korea)

This amazing concoction consists of rice wine mixed with fermented baby mice. According to local folk medicine, this stuff can help cure all kinds of ailments from asthma to liver disease.

To make it, days old mice babies who don’t even have hair or open eyes are dropped into a bottle of rice wine and left to sit for about a year. The finished product has been described as tasting like “roadkill mixed with gasoline”.

6. Snake – Snake Soup (China)

Eaten all over mainland China, this particular delicacy is most popular in Hong Kong. Here you can get snake meat so fresh, the snakes are still alive when you choose them. If you are a snake lover, you may want to avoid Hong Kong between November and April, when thousands of snakes are shipped in especially for eating. Many Cantonese believe the soup gives the body an inner coating to ward off colds and flu.

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Bill Lehane
Bill Lehane, 28, is a journalist and freelance writer from Dublin, Ireland. He recently returned from six months working as a teacher in east China, which gave him a chance to experience many of the wide, weird and wacky sights that make up daily life in the Middle Kingdom. However, he did not succeed in teaching the local teenagers anything whatsoever: they still love Michael Jackson, KFC and themselves. More at billlehane.com.
Bill Lehane

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24 Comments
  • If you are anything other than Vegan you're part of this human desire to dominate animals. You are also part of the problem.

  • Dog is also eaten in Northern China and Vietnam.

    That jar of baby mice has Chinese writing on it, not Korean.

  • I love being part of a problem.

  • You can get snake meat so fresh the snakes are still alive when you choose them in many places in China, not just Hong Kong. It's true for a lot of foods in China, really – frogs, turtles, eel, fish, lobster, shellfish…

  • Why not food that we eat has become our pets rather that pets that become food.

    It has always been in the food chain, the strong eats the weak. They become pets when human gets emotion with them.

  • For us pets, for them meat. Not really shocking to me.
    I'm well aware that even cats are served as food, I wouldn't enjoy eating it as I have had them as pets for long time.

    Usually the meat (and animal) is not the problem, but their treatment. Just like in South Korea, with dogs on markets.
    !!! Shocking images !!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_2X1cF7X-M

    For the same, Indian people are offended maybe when we post recipes for cow meat…

  • Heinz Guderian

    I agree completely with Neko, I don’t mind eating animal flesh because it’s just the way life is, but I am 100 percent against animal cruelty in terms of torturing the animals before they are slaughtered or during. It is beyond any doubt, animals feel pain and Neko is right by saying the treatment of some of these animals by some people is disgusting. Some people take a disturbing zeal in inflicting pain and suffering upon the poor beasts. I am quite sure that if the tables were turned and they were the ones powerless, at the mercy of another, who was cruel and sadistic they could then understand exactly how mess up it is doing that sort of thing.
    P.S Neko means Cat in Japanese I think, I have had cats all my life too Neko they are amazing!

  • take my word, snakes are fucking yum yum, they taste kinda like eel but much nicer

  • What I don't get about this "pet" eating thing is that some people eat them because they're aphrodisiacs or can cure such and such.

  • Too scared to eat however if u dig it, great.

  • I could go for the horse meat.

  • Horse meat, whats so weird with that? i just had some on my breakfast bread :) (i live in sweden)

  • Error in this article, rats aren't eaten by Koreans. Obviously the jar in the picture is labelled in Chinese……can see what kind of dumbass Lehane is… It's a local delicacy in China

  • Anyone can advice any location in kowloon tat i can try snake soup?

  • Nadnerb says they become pets when you get an emotional attachment to the animal….Therefore its OK to eat them… Nadnerb, I have no emotional attachment to my neighbour, so shall I roast his arm tonight for tea??

  • kidney transplant

    The dog looks like roast beef, the horse looks like bacon, the turtle looks like jello, the tarantula looks like… well tarantula, the mouse looks like eww and the snake looks like squid. The sad part is that I want to try dog now.

  • .Therefore its OK to eat them… Nadnerb, I have no emotional attachment to my neighbour, so shall I roast his arm tonight for tea??

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