I love the freshness of a good plate of sashimi, but eating food that’s still moving, or in most cases, still alive is the next level to what I can stomach. Ikizukuri, which translates to “prepared alive” and means exactly that. Animals that are being prepared, without first killing them, and then eaten immediately, often still moving and wriggling on your plate.
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Emphasis is placed on the animation of your food, which is an indication of its freshness. The most controversial part of this is that the animals are still alive, though briefly, staring at you as you eat their insides. It kinda reminds me of those cannibal movies where they rip out your heart and make you watch as they eat it. Sick. So controversial, that this form of preparing food is outlawed in Germany and Australia.
The most common sea animal used in Ikizukuri is fish, but at times, octopus, shrimp, lobster and even frogs have been used. The below video shows the preparation of a frog in Ikizukuri style and is definitely not for the squeamish.
Apart from sashimi, other methods of preparing live animals exist, like the odori ebi (dancing prawn). Prawns are dunked into sake to intoxicate it and prepared quickly. The person eating the shrimp usually dips the live shrimp into a special dipping sauce and then quickly chews on the animal to kill it.
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While the Japanese are known for this method of preparing sashimi, the Chinese have their own way of Ikizukuri, deep-frying the fish and keeping them alive till they are eaten, known as Yin Yang fish.
In Korea, this practice is less cruel. Sannakji which are small octopuses cut into little pieces and usually lightly seasoned with sesame oil and sesame. While they are already dead, their nerves and suckers are still active, causing them to squirm and stick to the insides of your mouth. I’ve had the opportunity to try this, and let’s just say there wouldn’t be a second time. One have to be careful to chew them carefully as several cases of choking have been reported as the suckers stick to your throat when swallowing. Of course, in the below video, I’m gonna show you Sannakji with the octopus still whole.
The Japanese version is served with a rice bowl with a squid stuck on a stick. It is made to dance by firing up its neurons with the sodium found in soy sauce as you can see here.
After seeing all these videos, would you try it?
Feature image by RocketNews24.