16 Chinese Foods That Americans Are Afraid Of

Foreign cuisine, like some Chinese dishes with unconventional methods or ingredients, may seem daunting to Americans, challenging their culinary norms.

Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu, a traditional Chinese snack, is notorious for its pungent odor. Made from tofu fermented in a mix of milk, vegetables, meat, and herbs, its smell resembles rotten food or garbage.

Century Eggs

Century Eggs are preserved in a clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls mixture for weeks/months. The cure turns the yolk grey, gives the egg a cheese-like texture, and turns the white into brown jelly with a strong aroma.

Chicken Feet

Chicken feet are key in Chinese Dim Sum, appreciated for their collagen-rich texture. Typically braised, steamed, or fried with soy sauce, star anise, and chili.

Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumber is often eaten in soups or stir-fries. Despite its challenging prep and look, it's a valued ingredient in festive, luxurious Chinese dishes.

Traditional Chinese Soymilk

Fresh soymilk often has a beany flavor, contrasting the sweet US versions. In China, it's consumed as a savory drink with pickled vegetables, a concept unusual to Americans.

Bitter Gourd

"Bittergourd, known as “bitter melon” or “karela,” is a unique vegetable noted for its bitter flavor often used in Chinese cuisine. Its challenging flavor profile contrasts typical sweet, salty, and umami flavors.

Fried Cicada Pupa

"Fried Cicada Pupa is a dish made from cicada pupae, insects living mostly underground. After being harvested and cleaned, they're deep-fried till crispy, and seasoned with spices for an enhanced nutty flavor."

Turtle Soup

Turtle Soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy made of turtle ingredients and herbs, is controversial as turtles are viewed more as exotic pets than food. It's believed to have medicinal properties.

Shark Fin Soup

Shark Fin Soup, a controversial Chinese dish, is known for not only its unique taste but also for environmental and ethical issues linked with finning.

Roasted Pig Brain

Roasted Pig Brain, a Chinese delicacy, often gets strong reactions due to its unusual main ingredient. It's seasoned, roasted or steamed and has a creamy texture enhanced with sesame oil and onions.


Duckhead dishes are common in Chinese street markets and restaurants, marinated with soy sauce, spices and Sichuan peppercorns then cooked until tender.

Bat Soup

Bat Soup, a whole bat stewed with ham, mushrooms, and herbs, is believed to have health benefits in Chinese medicine. However, it's met with skepticism and revulsion in the West.

Sand Worms

Sandworms, usually harvested from wet sand and mudflats, possess a unique earthy flavor. They can be stir-fried or served raw with dips. The dish may unsettle Americans due to the unfamiliarity of eating worms.

Fish Mint

Fish Mint, or "yu xiang cao", is a distinct, fishy-scented herb used in Chinese salads, soups, and garnish dishes. Its strong flavor complements many Asian recipes but may be an acquired taste for Americans.

Bird Nest Soup

Bird's Nest Soup, a luxurious staple of Chinese cuisine, is prized for its health benefits and delicate flavor. Its main ingredient is the edible nest of the swiftlet bird.

Scorpion Skewers

Scorpion Skewers, a unique street food delicacy in China, are seasoned, deep-fried scorpions, sometimes alive until crunchy. They taste like shellfish & are an exotic quick snack.

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