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Haleth's avatar

What was this mystery food I ate?

Asked by Haleth (19518points) March 16th, 2011

Okay, a few days ago I went to a big dinner with my boyfriend’s family at a Chinese restaurant. The restaurant has a set menu for big parties where they serve things banquet style, so as far as I know nobody in the family chose the actual dishes.

One of the courses was a seafood stir-fry. Most of the dish was familiar items like squid and scallops, but there were there brownish-orange curly things in there. Nobody at the table could figure out what they were so we just ate around them. They were about an inch and a half long, curled over on themselves like a seashell, and the meat was maybe a quarter inch thick. They were about the color of a sweet potato.

Then I had to be a dumbass and try one. Bleurgh! The flavor was fishy, pungent, and cloying. As I chewed on the damn thing this juice squirted out of it. Usually when I’m adventurous about food it pays off. For example, jellyfish is freaking delicious. Not this time.

So what was this thing? I know sea urchins are orange, but I thought they were round? Sort of like scallops? Nobody at dinner seemed to know.

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17 Answers

MissA's avatar

Could you tell whether they were pieces of something larger which curled when cooked?

Haleth's avatar

@MissA I’m not sure, but the ends were straight as if they’d been sliced. So it may have been a piece of something larger.

@Michael_Huntington Actually, we had those in another dish! And they were pretty good. :)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Wow, I have no idea, which is why I prefer Americanized Chinese food- there’s nothing unidentifiable and yucky in it! I’m not that adventurous when it comes to what I eat.

MissA's avatar

The element that baffles me is the way you described the taste and all…I was going to suggest some type of mussel that was sliced, but probably not. I’m sorry your taste buds had to experience that one!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Dang, I thought I had it.
I will crack this case! I’m never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down…

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I’m going to take another stab at this. Sea cucumber?

Haleth's avatar

Dang, @Michael_Huntington, that’s it! I googled “sea cucumber stir-fry” and came up with this which looks just like the dish that we had. You know what… even if I had known what it was, I would have still tried it. Thanks a million!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

You’re welcome :D
Glad to be of assistance!

Haleth's avatar

I just scrolled up again and saw the rickroll. You… rickrolled me. OMG. Now I’m going to have that stuck in my head all night.

chocolatechip's avatar

Strange that you found the taste of sea cucumber (if that’s what it was) so offensive. I’ve had it a few times before and it doesn’t really taste like anything.

Haleth's avatar

@chocolatechip Huh. I’ll have to give it another shot, then!

MissA's avatar

What is a rickroll?

Haleth's avatar

@MissA An internet meme where someone misleads you into watching “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. Usually it’s done by posting a misleading link to something interesting, which actually leads you to the youtube video. But it’s possible to do it anywhere. It showed up on Family Guy and once Rick Astley himself rickrolled the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade by doing the song live.

MissA's avatar


Thanks for explaining.
Makes me feel old!

chocolatechip's avatar

@Haleth The kind I have eaten doesn’t look like the kind in your picture though. I’ve had the purplish ones that have spikes on them.

Like this

Buttonstc's avatar

There is also the possibility that it was way past it’s prime. From your description about the pungency and all, that’s a possibility.

Most seafood has an extremely short shelf life and I don’t know of any seafood offhand that has a pungent smell or taste (unless it is spoiled). Seafood is supposed to have a fresh clean smell and taste to it. Most of us Americans are used to accepting sub par smelly fish from the typical seafood counter in the local supermarket (or sealed up in plastic wrapped trays so it’s true state cannot be seen until you unwrap it at home.)

I’m always wary about ordering any type of seafood in a restaurant with which I’m not familiar. After reading Anthony Bourdains book, it just strengthened my cautionary attitude. That was an unvarnished look at the realities of the restaurant biz and the cost cutting and sometimes unsavory choices they make written by someone in the industry all of his life.

I’ve also seen a few episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and was amazed at how much spoiled and below par food is hidden away in the kitchens of restaurants with an otherwise “clean” look to them.

That’s just my .02 cents worth.

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