Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sea Horse and Sea Dragon

While in Chinatown with Andrew and Lauren Saturday, we came across quite a selection of dried items, many of which were different kinds of sea horses, locked behind glass with pretty impressive dollar figures. On an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern recently, I saw him in a nice restaurant in China where he was served sea horse. His comment was that it was bony and not very good. For that reason alone I knew they were edible and worth a try. We hovered in the area for awhile, hoping to get some help from someone that spoke English. We found one person that spoke a little English. The cheapest items had a price tag of $10.00. We were told that it was $10.00 per ounce. I told the woman I wanted four or five of the little sea horses, which turned out to be sea dragons. The total was just over $3.00.
At this point, less intimidated by the dollar signs, we ordered one sea horse from a box of sea horses that were labeled $40.00, presumably $40.00 per ounce.

Our one sea horse was a little more than $4.00.

We put the sea dragons and horse into water to see if it would help rehydrate them.

Then we boiled them...

...and fried them.

They did not look particularly appetizing, but I figured the sea dragons must be better than the bony sea horse.

Andrew ventured the first bite of the sea horse, biting off the head. I followed with a bite. At first it structurally seemed very much like chewing on small chicken bones. It wasn't tasty, but it wasn't bad. However, after chewing for about 15 seconds a rather nasty taste came storming into my mouth and Andrew and I both spit it out into the garbage about the same time.

The picture below is of a leafy sea dragon, only found in the waters off of Australia. I'm sure we were not eaty leafy sea dragon, but at least I learned that they are related to sea horses. We each took a bite of sea dragon and it was not bony and much easier to chew. However, a horribly nasty taste came flooding out of that little morsel that was unbelievable. Andrew and I both spit these bites into the garbage as well. The taste of the sea dragon lingered in my mouth. I ate several bites of duck to neutralize the taste, but on my way home, I got the horrible taste back in my mouth. I stopped at Baskin Robbins for some ice cream and a diet Pepsi. That helped a lot.
I read that sea horses are used in Chinese medicine. I don't read anything about eating them as food. I saw at least one internet article about eating sea dragons in a salad. I hope they're using a lot of strong salad dressing. That is one item I'll pass on again. 

14 comments:

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, love this post. I just snorted ice water through my nose because I started laughing so hard. It didn't taste bad like what you ate, but it sure hurt! :p

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  2. Shame on you for encouraging this vile trade.
    What were you thinking?
    philippa francis - diver

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  3. Philippa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I had no idea it was a vile trade. But after tasting it, I agree it is pretty vile and I suspect my shared experience will not encouraging anyone else to try it. Bob

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  4. I am having this nasty seahorse + sea dragon soup at home right now. For medicinal purposes cos I am sick. I need to brush my teeth ten times before I can kiss my boyfriend. =(

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  5. It is not a vile trade! Sea horses and sea dragons are good medicine! The problem is with overfishing, and even that is being addressed in many places where they are harvested. PBS broadcast a show where they were exploring the mysterious world of sea horses and one of the things they pointed out is that many communities, such as in the Philippines have started police-patrolled marine farm sanctuaries to give the sea horse population a protected place to grow so that this very important and necessary trade can continue and allow the sea horses to flourish at the same time.

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  6. Sea horses are in a great danger of extinction. It is because of "snob", fancy cusine or traditional medicine where there is no proven effect on our helath. They don't even taste good! Please, try not to buy them, eat them, collect'em or whatever. It's much better to see them in the sea, not on a plate.

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  7. I agree completely!! They are beautiful creatures and belong in the sea. Just because they are from the sea doesn't make them food.

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  8. They present no proven or even evident cure for any ailment. Coral reefs around the world are being plundered, mainly for East Asian food and 'medicine'. Most sea horse populations are on the edge of collapse

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  9. How can you eat a creature this beautiful anyway? I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing I had a seahorse in my mouth :/

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    1. By that logic, how can you eat a lamb, a chicken, a cow, a tomato, a peach? They are all beautiful in their own way.

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    2. exactly why we should cut back on food consumption

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  10. Just wait until I'm born to China! Resolution will be if you want good medicine from these beauties you leave them to live in big blue! Magic is in life not death! Ticking..there will be the chime of Time!

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  11. lol @ all the pussies bawwing about seahorses being eaten... go hug a tree you morons

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