Milk Fish Intestines – A Taiwanese Delicacy That’s Hard to Swallow

Taiwanese food is very popular all over the world, but some of the dishes it proposes are hard to swallow even for natives. Take for example milkfish intestines, a delicacy that’s difficult to look at, let alone swallow.

Milkfish is farmed on a large scale in Taiwan, not only for its meat but also its intestines, which are apparently the base of several dishes, including black fried intestines and milkfish intestine soup. Both are reportedly delicious, but you first have to get over the fact that they look like cooked worms, and even then, the idea of eating fish guts doesn’t appeal to everyone. Southern Taiwan, which hosts the most milkfish farms, is reportedly more familiar with milkfish intestine dishes which have become somewhat of a local challenge for visitors.

As an ingredient, milkfish intestines are very perishable, which is why you’ll only see it used as an ingredient where it can be obtained fresh, and even then, quickly after harvesting. It’s a known fact that milkfish guts will start to decompose even when refrigerated or frozen, due to the enzymes they contain, so cooks will usually cook them as soon as they are cut out of the fish.

Most of the time, fish guts are thrown into the garbage when the fish is processed, and for good reason. Not all milkfish intestines are edible. According to one blog post I found, in order for the intestines to be usable, the fish have to be starved for several days, in order for most of the food waste to be excreted, which raises some ethical questions.

Milkfish intestines still have to be washed thoroughly before cooking, in order to remove all the waste from them. they can either be boiled as part of a soup, which in my opinion looks simply unedible, or fried to a crisp in oil. Both are reportedly delicious, although I for one would not be brave enough to try them, given the opportunity.

If you think cooked milkfish intestines look inedible, check out this Japanese treat, it will keep you up at night… Oh, and who could forget China’s controversial Yin and Yang Fish!


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