I keep wondering what the folks in Beijing are eating. Well, according to CNN, deep-fried seahorse for one thing! No, that is not what is in the photo at left. The photo at left is of the fantastic grilled Lemongrass Shrimp I enjoyed at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro the other day. It is one of their new grill items and I highly recommend it, at $16 a steal for five large, perfectly cooked shrimp over noodles with a grilled lemon half.
Back to the seahorses. I thought I fleetingly saw a skewer of seahorses on TV a week ago, but was sure my eyes were deceiving me. Apparently not, now that I see the CNN story online. They are deep-fried for street snacks, as are starfish, cicadas, scorpions, and other insects. More on this is on the “East Asian Inspiration” website of designer Mark Wu. I remember seeing Madagascar hissing cockroaches at the American Museum of Natural History a few years ago, when they held a special event on eating bugs that I attended with my colleague Pat Tanner, who bravely ate a roasted mealworm. I demurred, and still do, even though that makes me a wuss.
To a Westerner like me, much as I love Chinese culture and cuisine, eating a seahorse is akin to eating a unicorn. I remember finding a struggling seahorse on a stony beach in Cape May many years ago and being so surprised because in my mind, they were kind of a mythical creature (of course I threw it back into the water). But, unlike unicorns, seahorses really exist. Or maybe, deep in the woods, there are a couple of unicorns hiding from us? Please don’t eat the last one.