Yin and Yang Fish – A Controversial Dish That’s Each Useless and Alive

Yin and Yang fish is a controversial dish that involves cooking a fish’s body while keeping the head fresh so that it moves its mouth and eyes while it is eaten.

From fish that smells like a public toilet to rock-hard cheese to a cake stuffed with a fish head, the world is full of weird foods, but few dishes can be called really annoying. Well, the dish you’re about to discover is such a rarity. Reportedly invented by a restaurant owner in Chiayi City, Taiwan in the early 2000s, yin and yang fish, also known as “dead and living fish,” are definitely not a dish for the faint of heart. It consists of a whole fish, usually carp, the body of which has been cooked and covered in sauce, but the head is kept raw so that the mouth and eyes still move as it is consumed.

Yin and Yang Fish made headlines in China and Taiwan back in 2007 when photos and videos of the disturbing “delicacy” found their way onto the Internet. It soon turned out that the dish was the creation of a Taiwanese chef who had developed a special technique to cook the fish fast enough that the mouth and eyes of his raw head were still twitching as it was served.

First, the scales of the live fish were carefully removed without damaging them; Then the fish’s head was wrapped in a towel with ice cubes and its body was dipped in a wok with hot oil and fried for about two minutes. Then the fish was carefully mounted on a large plate, covered with sweet and sour sauce, and served to guests with a stomach hard enough to enjoy.

Although the chef assured everyone that the fish wasn’t actually alive and that the movements of his mouth and eyes were just uncontrolled nerve spasms, the videos angered both animal rights activists and the general public, and after all, yin and yang fish weren’t just banned in Chaiyi, but all of Taiwan.

But just because the disturbing dish was banned in the country that created it doesn’t mean it simply disappeared. Yin and Yang fish was adopted in mainland China, where it is apparently still served today.

A quick YouTube search found some old videos of yin and yang fish and people poking around to see their mouth and gills move. However, there is also new evidence that the dish is still served in certain restaurants like this TikTok video posted in March which has been viewed over 3 million times.

How someone could endure to be served something like this in a restaurant, let alone to eat it, is a mystery to me, but each one in itself, I think …


And here I thought these Japanese alien dumplings were disturbing …

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