Hainanese chicken rice chips

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At the end of August I went on a short city trip to Singapore. I had been there before, but this time I wanted to try more local food and had a list of smaller hole-in-the-wall restaurants and street food stalls lined up. One of the must eat local dishes is Hainanese chicken rice stemming from Chinese heritage. Of course I tried a lot of local dishes, including the chicken rice, but I also came across some local inspired snacks.

In a 7-eleven I picked up a bag of Hainanese chicken rice flavored potato chips. We all know I have reviewed quite a number of those, and it would make a great addition. Or so I thought. In actuality it was just a plain, boring potato chip with a nice crunch, but no discerning flavors. Certainly not anything resembling chicken rice. Better keep your money and buy the real deal.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 5

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Zure zult (Sour brawn)

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Although in modern times people are shying away from off cuts and organ meats, head cheese is eaten in one form or another in pretty much every part of the globe. In most places it consists of small pieces of meat from the head of a pig enrobed in a jelly made from the bones and cartilage. Zure zult (sour brawn), however, is completely mixed to make one uniform texture. Unlike regular head cheese it also has the addition of vinegar, hence the name.

I had never eaten it as a kid as by that time most people had stopped eating it, and also I was quite the picky eater. Now I find it important to get to know my culture better and to try out as many different things as I can. I bought a pack of sliced head cheese and tried some on its own. It had a very soft texture, almost that of butter. The flavor was quite nice, nor organ-y at all. It just tasted like meat, with a hint of acidity. It really was just like a nice pate. From the rest of the head cheese I made some croquettes to go with my locally inspired dinner and my parents both loved it.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 8

Twix chocolate spread

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Last year on my trip to Europe I found The Holy Grail, a jar of Maltesers chocolate spread. This time around I came across its little brother in the form Twix chocolate spread. Loving the Maltesers spread so much I had high hopes and bought a jar to take back to China with me.

Once in China I opened the jar and dipped my finger into the gooey chocolaty goodness expecting a bit of a crunch. Now the chocolate was obviously doing its job. It was sweet, smooth and creamy. The crunch of Twix biscuit pieces, however, was lacking. Where the Maltesers spread was crunchy in each mouthful, the Twix one was mainly just chocolate with a few pieces of sandy biscuit crumb here and there. Honestly, I could have picked up any old chocolate spread and be none the wiser.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Lobster chips

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I always like finding new flavors of potato chips in the supermarket. It’s a little like Russian roulette. Sometimes you get something amazing, but usually it’s just a big disappointment. This time around I found what looks like lobster flavored chips. At least I think it is by the look of the picture.

I was prepared for a fishy seafood taste, something which I don’t enjoy all that much, but I soon found out there wasn’t any. Not a single shred of evidence to convince me that this was lobster flavor. The potato chips themselves were just fine, but still it was a huge disappointment. I can’t wait for the next one to arrive.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 5

Fermented shark

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I’m sorry for the absence on my blog for the past week or two, but I have a very good excuse. I was on holiday. To make up for it I’ve written up a post on the item with probably my highest Fear Factor to date. I gave this one a nine, so obviously it can’t get much higher than that. The item is the famous, or rather infamous, fermented shark known as “hakarl” from Iceland that has put fears in the eyes of viewers of Anthony Bourdain shows worldwide. I believe he thought it was the worst thing he ever tasted. Yikes!

I’ve been writing about my experience in Iceland over the past few weeks, so you might have seen me mention a food tour of Reykjavik that I did. This particular company was the only one to include hakarl, so naturally I booked my tour with them. The shark was served as one small cube in a mini paper cup as that’s probably all anyone ever eats. The flesh was pure white and it actually didn’t smell that strong at all unless you put your nose right over it.

There were four of us there, my friend and I and a mother and teenage son from America, and we each reacted completely differently. My friend had hated it when she tried it before (she lives in Iceland), but this time found it slightly less revolting, the teenage son found it quite edible, the mom damn nearly puked and has a video that I can only assume must be floating around YouTube, and then there was me.

I took a deep breath, dug in, was surprised at the taste and texture, chewed, swallowed and was left thinking: “Was that it?” I seriously can’t see what all the fuss is about. It certainly didn’t taste rotten to me. It was even a little sweet. I would go as far as saying I actually enjoyed it. I guess the myth has been busted, at least as far as I’m concerned. Although later I did hear that there are different varieties with different strengths, but I’m choosing to ignore that and stick to my victory.

Fear Factor – 9 / Taste Test – 7

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