How to eat Scorpion in Beijing

Eat Scorpion on Wangfujing street

In the heart of Beijing, off the side of one of its busiest streets, lies a peculiar market.

It’s where tourists go to test the saying that the Chinese will eat anything with four legs and isn’t a table. Actually, the saying shouldn’t be restricted to only four legs, really anything that lives and breathes is a potential food for the Chinese. Flying lizards, beetles, grasshoppers, snakes, scorpions, organs of cow, pig and chicken – the Chinese are not restricted to one Phylum let alone one Class of food.

Snake with chili at Donghuamen MarketI have my eye on a row of black scorpions. The street vendor notices immediately and begins his pitch. “Scorpion good. Taste like Chicken. You try. Come.” I am still a bit nervous from a run in twenty minutes earlier I had with a snake. It had a slimy, gelatinous texture and even the four scoops of chill sauce dumped on top couldn’t suppress an overtly reptilian taste; something like fish that had gone rotten. Part of the problem was that I couldn’t seem to locate any actual meat, just the scaly, translucent skin. I ate two bites and chucked it in the trash-bin.

“Come, come. You try.” He diverts my attention away from the huge black scorpions, to the smaller, brownish variety. The scorpions are skewered on small wooden dowels and displayed in rows. The wiggles of tails and clamping of claws prove their freshness to connoisseurs of scorpion in Beijing, before they are unceremoniously fried. I am no connoisseur, just a tourist with a peaked interest. On my first day in China, I posted on Facebook that I was starting with chicken wings and working my way through the entire chicken. I had attached the menu of a local diner, which included “chicken gizzard”, chicken hearts” and “chicken head”. I was being sarcastic. Chicken head was definitely out of the question.

The street vendor passes me my insect on a stick and looks on with anticipation.

I eye my once poisonous meal with restrained hope. He is the size of a small bic lighter and has a brownish, black complexion with a golden opaque stinger.

I crunch down through the exoskeleton easily. I first notice an intense saltiness, almost like a roasted peanut, which gives way to a short, but enjoyable chewiness. Their isn’t much meat inside of him, but what’s there is soft and even a little moist. A couple of days earlier, an expat working at a cooking school had lessened some of my fears by saying “Think of it – Scorpions aren’t much different from lobsters, crawfish or shrimp. They have a similar anatomy. Think of them just like a land crawfish and you’ll be fine.”

I eat the scorpion in less than 3 seconds and dive into the second one on my stick without a moment’s hesitation. I enjoy more crunchy, salty goodness. It does taste a bit like chicken, but the question is which part? Maybe I have to reconsider my position on chicken-head after all.

Particulars in finding the Market.

The street market can be found in the hutongs (alleys) off the west side of Wangfujing street, which is the biggest shopping street in downtown Beijing. There is another market further up on Donghuamen Street that runs perpendicular to Wangfujing market that also sells unique street food (also off to the west side of Wangfujing street or the left hand side if you are coming from the Wangfujing subway station).

Also Try:

Make sure to try banana encased within a deep-fried and golden dough. It was so good I got it twice. See the pictures below.

Pictures of Donghuamen and Wangfujing Market:

Wangfujing Market at night

Wangfujing Market at night is bustling with tourists.

Flying lizard

Flying lizard or starfish anyone?

Sea horses and scorpions at Wangfujing Market

Sea horses and scorpions at Wangfujing Market.

Frying snake at Donghuamen Market

My putrid snake is cooked.

Snake with chili at Donghuamen Market

Anyone hungry? If you were before, you’re probably not anymore.

Wangfujing market eating snake

Other tourists look on with glee as I bite into the gelatinous snake.

Scorpions at Donghuamen Market

The man who sold me scorpion.

Pineapple and rice thingy at Donghuamen Market

Not quite sure what this was. Rice inside a hallowed out pineapple I think.

Fried Banana at Donghuamen Market

Fried banana is so warm and sugary and the banana is melted inside. Fantastic.

 

Have you tried any food that you thought was surpassingly good? Let me know in the comment section so I can try it :)

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  • Katie McGrain

    This is awesome! What a fantastic description of scorpion! Don’t know if I would have the guts to do it!

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      Thanks Katie. It’s really not bad at all…. just close your eyes ;)

  • Mytanfeet

    I really wish I had the guts to try scorpion, if I try REALLY hard to think of it as similar to lobster or crab I might but just thinking about how the many times I’ve been stung by them freaks me out. Haha it’s funny how everything somehow tastes like chicken right?? Man I had no idea people ate sea stars!

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      Yes, totally. Chicken is the default taste in this world.

      But let’s talk about you getting stung by scorpions, not once, but multiple times. Are they not extremely dangerous? What did it feel like? I need to know!

  • Allen Ma

    I can’t even look at chicken head while having chicken. And what you ate there are the stuff I never had in my life, not every Chinese eats anything… Plus contact me on skype! Right away please

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      Allen, so I won’t be seeing any chicken-head at your wedding? I am very disappointed. Actually, don’t worry about it. I already ate at KFC like 3 times since I’ve been here, and I’m pretty sure I got all of the parts covered now by accident. (I’m joking KFC, don’t sue me for slander).

      p.s. Looking forward to the wedding!

  • http://www.turnipseedtravel.com/ Vanessa (@Turnipseeds)

    I enthusiastically support eating deep fried banana – but just about everything else freaks me out. Love travel, don’t always love the travel food experiences!!! But it does make you rethink the ‘polished’ food we eat in Canada and other countries- perfectly trimmed chicken filet, unblemished shinny apples, perfectly uniform cookies. It’s not normal and it’s nothing like what the rest of the world eats. I will definitely think of this post next time I’m feeling un-brave!

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      I was a fried banana virgin before Beijing. Who knew that frying fruit could be so delicious? As far as polished food goes, somebody was skinning an animal of some sort outside of my hostel in Xian last night. They were putting the skin and non-edibles into the sewer. It had little, white furry feet. I just hope to god it was a rabbit.

  • http://www.alongdustyroads.com Emily and Andrew

    Good on you for trying it! I’ve eaten some dog, some cat and creepy crawlies, but the thing that makes my stomach have the worst memories was actually goat stomach! Absolutely awful in everyway.

    Andrew @www.alongdustyroads.com

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      I have a problem when it comes to stomach, intestines, tripe etc. I think I would prefer my slimy snake on a stick compared to sheep stomach.

  • travelgeekery

    Hehe, what a great post :) I tried only the small scorpion and loved it! The crunchiness was great. Not that it would become my favourite snack but it tasted better than looked;)

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      Exactly.

  • Rand

    Looks interesting non-the-less! But can’t say I’d give it a try. It reminds me a bit of all the fried insect being sold on the streets in Cambodia, etc

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      I guess it’s not only China then.

  • http://iviaggideirospi.com/ Alessandra Granata

    oh my god… i don’t know if i’m able to taste them (poor sea horse :-) ) but it’s a part of their culture!! :-) Thanks for sharing!!

  • Kristen Sarra

    haha I’m a vegetarian (well actually kind of a fake one). I only ever try meat while travelling (or back home if I’m extremely drunk) because I like to immerse myself in local culture of which food is typically a huge part of. Would definitely love to try scorpion!

    • http://www.PassportChronicles.com Andrew

      Do it. It’s worth breaking your sort of vegetarian status for!

  • http://www.sumitsurai.com/ Sumit Surai

    I would like to at least try these once, but am not sure would succeed. You are really brave

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