1. Red Frog Crab
Tastes like: the most succulent, springy crab you’ll ever have.
Eaten in the Philippines, Japan, and all around Southeast Asia. The meat is semi-translucent and lighter than most Atlantic crabs.
Tastes like: a fish that bench-presses 300 pounds.
In Chinese, they’re called “flayer’s fish” — peeling its rough and stony skin is a chore, but the firm and sweet meat makes it worth it. Eaten in all forms around the Pacific Rim.
3. Miscellaneous Whelks and Sea Snails
Tastes like: savory rubber bands with a dollop of chalky innards.
I bought bagfuls of these at movie theater concession stands the way you’d buy popcorn. Dig the flesh out with a toothpick, or suck it out of the hole. Great in a spicy wine broth.
Tastes like: swordfish, but even drier and tougher.
Often found stuck gruesomely in the propellers of boats, or snared as bycatch in fishermen’s nets. In Japan and Taiwan, they’re sometimes eaten as sashimi or in a spicy basil stir-fry.
5. Giant Clam
Tastes like: between clam and octopus.
Warning: Giant clam is ecologically threatened in many parts of the Pacific, so make sure it’s sourced responsibly. Otherwise, it is (or was) a staple in Filipino and Polynesian cuisine.
6. Mantis Shrimp
Tastes like: a crawfish’s creepy cousin.
Never mind that mantis shrimps have the most sophisticated eyes in the animal kingdom, or claws that can crack some aquarium walls. They taste great sautéed in a bed of garlic and peppers.
7. Chinese Swamp Eel
Tastes like: a slippier, chewier, springier unagi.
Cooked in chives and rice wine. A signature dish of Shanghainese and Southern Taiwanese cuisine.
Tastes like: if a squid mated with a cucumber.
Jellyfish is almost always dried and cured before it’s prepared as food. Eaten in Japan, Korea and China. Great in a drizzle of sesame oil and vinegar.
9. Slipper Lobster
Tastes like: lobster.
Looks like a facehugger. Tastes like Pacific lobster (which is prawnier than Maine lobster). Found heaped in mountainous abundance in fish markets across Southeast Asia.
10. Sea Cucumber
Tastes like: a tenderized and marinated rubber tire.
Soaring demand for it in China has sparked gang wars in Mexico and illegal overharvesting in Alaska.
Tastes like: yikes.
Eaten from Korea to Pakistan. An often unbearably fishy staple of Taiwanese school cafeterias.
Tastes like: slimey fish
Often stewed in a light ginger chicken broth in Southern Taiwan. I’m not sure anyone else eats them.
13. Porcupine Fish
Tastes like: chewy jelly (skin) and plain old whitefish (flesh).
The skin of porcupine fish can be boiled and marinated in fish skin salads. The flesh makes a good Okinawan tempura.
Tastes: light and flakey.
Called loro in the Philippines, and often grilled or stewed with onions. Also eaten in Hong Kong and southern China.
15. Horseshoe Crab
Tastes like: plastic (apparently).
According to this report, the roe is a delicacy in Thailand and Malaysia and sometimes added as an ingredient to spicy som tam salads. Otherwise, there’s not much flesh to eat.
16. Penis Fish
Tastes like: firm and crunchy.
Looks like: well, now.
A type of worm that burrows in ocean beds. Most often eaten raw with soy sauce and sesame oil in Korea.
Tastes like: a surprisingly mundane whitefish.
Grilled in banana leaf in Indonesia. Fermented like lukefisk in Korea into one of the most hellish-smelling delicacies. Often eaten in French cuisine too.
18. Angler Fish Liver
Tastes like: witchy foie gras.
Mostly eaten in a light drizzle of shaved red ginger, scallions, and ponzu soy sauce in Japan.
Tastes like: between fish jerky and fish and chips.
Served dried, fried, spiced with garlic and pepper, and with a side of eggs and rice in Filippino dansilog.
Tastes: very chewy.
Only eaten in Korea, and often found waggling in the frayed corpses of whales and sharks on the ocean floor. When threatened, a single hagfish can release enzymes and turn a barrel of water into pure slime. When grilled, it reportedly tastes mild and chewy.
And a (surprisingly catchy) song to sum it all up
(Seriously, though, red frog crab is the best.)