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One Food You Just HAVE to Try?

I'm starting to get a bit more adventurous in my food preferences, and am wondering if anyone has any odd (or not) recommendations for foods that taste great--even if it won't seem that way at first glance.

Specific foods or brands would be welcome, as well. Preferably this is something people don't already normally eat day to day, i.e. Fuji apples.

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  1. Not really one, but related... I recommend three staple South East Asian preserved seafoods: dried anchovies, fish sauce and shrimp paste.
    They can smell pretty intense, but are delicious if used properly.

    1. At the end of each year I try to make a list of foods I want to try in the upcoming year. This year I was pretty successful and tried raw oysters, Durian and Scotch eggs .... all on my list. I did not grow up an adventurous eater, so I have a lot to choose from. Anchovies and sardines are on the list for the upcoming year. Still picking the rest of the victims.
      (I enjoyed both the broiled and raw oysters .... the durian not so much.... Scotch eggs are yummy.)

      4 Replies
      1. re: Firegoat

        I want to try Durian. Oysters are devine.

        1. re: Firegoat

          Scotch eggs are so delicious!

          1. re: Firegoat

            Dreaded double comment, please ignore.

            1. re: Firegoat

              My experience with durian wasn't my fondest--the smell is so pungent.

              However, thank you for the Scotch eggs recommendation! I was also not very adventurous in my youth, but have recently branched out quite a bit.

            2. The other day I saw a receipe for oven roasted radishes and tried it, outstanding+, just used the standard red radishes from WM.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                I want to try Kobe beef. Dunno if it will happen, but it's on my bucket list!!

              2. Mexican cuisine incorporating chocolate!

                4 Replies
                1. re: KayceeK

                  Pasta with grated bottarga which is the driec/cured fish roe of the grey mullet.

                   
                  1. re: arktos

                    i have wanted to try this ever since I saw Bourdain raving about it on a episode of No Reservations in Italy

                    1. re: arktos

                      That's definitely on my list too. Now, to source bottarga in Canada.

                    2. re: KayceeK

                      definitely something you need to try ASAP! so delicious

                    3. I really want try truffles and that's real truffles not just truffle salt or oil. I also really want to try beef marrow bones. I have tried cavier before but now that I have a more advanced palate I want to try it again like on belinis and sour cream with cavier on top. But I am trying to make this new year a much healthier year for me in order to lose weight and I prove my health I want to try new healthy foods like new ways to enjoy vegitables and more bean dishes and more complex grains like quinoa, barley, and other grains

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: LEsherick2007

                        Ditto here on the truffles. Every time we go to a restaurant that serves something with truffles, they also offer something else that I have to have.
                        Just want to see what all the fuss is about.

                        1. re: Michelly

                          Yea but in my little town I probally would have travel 2 hours to Pittsburgh to get a dish that has truffles. I do want to try them I think. I will like the flavor but you never know, I don't like mushrooms and that's mostly because of the texture but if you chop it up very small and put it into a dish like stuffing or something I will eat it but large slices like on pizza or steak turns me off. So I do hope I like truffles but I think I do want to try truffle salt before I have shaved truffles on anything.

                          1. re: LEsherick2007

                            I like truffle salt. I only use it on a couple of things at home, but my daughter says it's great on lots of things - scrambled eggs, a grilled cheese, french fries, even white pizza, etc. Try it - I think you'll be surprised.

                          2. re: Michelly

                            There are different kinds of truffles. I've had black summer truffles that were pretty much tasteless, and unfortunately added a rubbery texture to the food. These are not so expensive. I've also had expensive white truffles shaved fresh on food that were pungent, in a kind of rotting way. Could be delectable, and in the hands of a great chef perhaps wonderful, but I have the suspicion that this is the exception more than the rule.

                          3. re: LEsherick2007

                            im with you on this one. but i always balk at the price when i see them in the store, and feel like they are just used hazardously on resto menus, havent been to a place where i would truly trust that they were used as well as possible (and uses actual truffles and not just the chef finishing it with truffle oil and calling it "truffled")

                            1. re: LEsherick2007

                              I want to try marrow spread on toast as well. It looks incredible.

                              1. re: LEsherick2007

                                Truffles are one of my favourite things on the planet to eat. Especially white. I've had them many times in Europe - very fresh from going truffle hunting. Those from Oregon pale in comparison, unfortunately, so just know that you may be disappointed a bit.

                                To me truffles taste very earthy, are highly aromatic and unlike anything else, with the texture of sliced almonds. We bought a few small ones at a truffle festival in Istria recently and shaved them over risotto and pasta at our house.

                                If you get the chance to try the real thing, jump all over it. In my opinion they are absolutely sublime.

                              2. At some point you need to experiment with Sichuan peppercorns. This could lead to a major breakthrough.

                                You get a small jar, toast a spoonful, then crush them. Use sparingly.
                                Try them out on bad Chinese takeout. They produce a tingling, numbing sensation. They are not peppercorns at all. I believe they are a kind of flower.

                                Or go to a Sichuan restaurant, but I'm not sure if there are any in Austin.

                                http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Steve

                                  another one ive been meaning to experiment with! cant wait to try this one! what your favorite use?

                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                    Seriously, I mostly use it for doctoring otherwise cloying Chinese-American food. My major consumption is at restaurants. But I have it in my arsenal of 'weapons' when I make Chinese noodles at home. In those cases, I don't use a recipe and just wing it with a variety of condiments.

                                  2. re: Steve

                                    +1 on adding it to bad Chinese takeout. There's a local joint here that makes mediocre at best chinesefood, but add some Sichuan peppercorns and it makes it taste much better!

                                    1. re: Steve

                                      I love them. I toast them with black peppercorns and a finishing salt such as fleur de sel and mix into a blend. Great sprinkled on roast chicken, duck, etc.

                                    2. It's hard to advise without knowing what your limits are.

                                      For example, last month I had calf's brain for the first time. I plan on ordering Rocky Mountain oysters if I ever see it on the menu of a reputable restaurant. That is probably way out there for someone who is just starting to get adventurous.

                                      Some people might consider venison or goat exotic. Being a carnivore, I suggest eating meat outside of the common beef/chicken/pork. That may just be a small change such as buffalo or goose, or it could be something more adventurous such as alligator.

                                      I also suggest branching out on fruit. Some people would consider persimmons or asian pears exotic, others might need to branch out to something like dragonfruit or rambutan to find something new.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                        Buckhorn Exchange, in Denver, for Rocky Mountain oysters.

                                        1. re: FoodPopulist

                                          I would try a bit of anything once, so do not have very many limits at the moment! :)

                                          I have not yet eaten brain, so thank you for the suggestion! What did you think of it? How did it compare to other organs or meats?

                                          I've eaten quite a bit of buffalo and venison, but have yet to try alligator! Rambutan would also be new for me--but I wish I could afford dragonfruit regularly, as it has a fantastic flavor.

                                          1. re: Nattomi

                                            The way the calf's brain was prepared, it had a nice contrast of texture. The inside was creamy, but with a nice crust on the outside. It's not particularly flavorful, though.

                                            Alligator is often found at a Cajun or similar restaurant. Rambutan is a common canned fruit in Asian groceries. (Fresh is better, of course). Going to an Asian store and picking out fruits you don't know can be kind of fun. You'll probably see more new fruits in a store oriented towards Thailand or other parts of SE Asia instead of China or Korean.

                                        2. I'd love to try roasted goose. I've never had the opportunity and have hesitated cooking something that large just for a "taste". One of these days!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: meatn3

                                            Never had goose, duck, lamb, goat or any real exotic or game meat but I have had deer and do not like that. But I suppose I need to try some new things.

                                            1. re: LEsherick2007

                                              I've had all the others you mention and enjoy them. Lamb I eat frequently, goat fairly often. Deer when friends who hunt give me gifts of it.

                                              Goose is just such a large item that few people/places seem to cook it.

                                              Edit: Totally misread the OP! Thought it was asking what each of use wanted to try - not recommendations...

                                            2. re: meatn3

                                              have a few friends over to try it with you!

                                            3. This is an easy one--anchovies on a pizza. I loooove this, and most of the folks that I know think it's nasty. To me, they're best on a pizza with veggies and greens like tomato and arugula. Gives it just enough umami taste. Go with just half the pizza at first if you're unsure.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                I find if 'challenging', to say the least, to eat pizza without anvhovies. Just don't 'get' all the anchovy hate in this country. It's also good with broccoli and greens.

                                                1. re: arktos

                                                  I know I love anchovies and its great on pizza but if I make pizza I chop up the anchovies then sprinkle on the chopped pieces so you don't get on big hit of salt and none in the other bites its more balanced and tastes so good.

                                                  1. re: LEsherick2007

                                                    I had a wonderful pizza in Sardinia that was thin crust, wood-oven fired and had the barest swipe of tomato sauce, anchovies, capers and garlic and a sprinkling of cheese, just to hold some of the toppings in place. With a few chile flakes added to the finished product, it was divine. Italians tend not to muddy up pizzas with a pile of toppings, but arugula or any green leafy vegetable would have been a welcome addition to offset the saltiness of the anchovies and capers.

                                                    1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                      My favourite pizza with fresh anchovies was in Sicily - I know what you are talking about. It was surreal - sounds very similar to what you had in Sardinia. We really tend to overdo it here on toppings.

                                              2. You have to try veal sweetbreads... don't look up what it is (if you don't know already) just to to a high end restaurant and order them. The flavor is delicate and the texture is silky.

                                                Personally, I want to try durian. there's an asian grocery near me that sells them... but I believe they're previously frozen and I understand that the frozen ones are far inferior to fresh. if I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it right!

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                  "You have to try veal sweetbreads" - yes! That's what I came here to say, then I saw the cgarner beat me to it! I was talked into trying these the first time in the 80's, by someone whose tastes in food I respect. I was so happy I did - now, I order them any time I see them on a menu.

                                                  I'd like to try nduja.

                                                  1. re: cgarner

                                                    I like durian, but it's so rich that I feel like I am eating fudge. Been a couple of years since I had it though. You might want to try durian candy and durian ice cream first.

                                                    1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                      I can't stand the smell or taste of durian - but I'm glad I've tried it. It's something everyone should try once.

                                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                        I agree, it just doesn't work for me on any level. But If I hadn't given it a go, it would probably still be driving me nuts.

                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                          I take pride in eating (and even enjoying) something that Andrew Zimmern has tried at least three times on Bizarre Foods and been unable to eat.

                                                      2. re: FoodPopulist

                                                        I will look for durian ice cream this weekend...at Assi, good suggestion! I'll report back if I find it

                                                        1. re: cgarner

                                                          Many Vietnamese restaurants will offer a durian "shake" made with condensed milk, ice and frozen durian. I used to order them all the time, but can't now, because they are so filling. I love the foods too much to waste my calories on a milkshake. However, the next time I find myself on South-east Asian soil, I will seek out fresh durian for a taste of the real thing.

                                                      3. re: cgarner

                                                        cgarner, I concur. I've seen durian at Assi frozen and have heard that the fresh cannot be rivaled. HOWEVER, a fresh one, sitting in a ship's hold for six weeks....no, make that sitting on a 747 for only 20 hours... will sicken the neighbors for blocks around and make their pets run away from home. Most of the intrigue for me is reports of the pernicious, vile odor and the "fruit of the Gods" flavor once you get it past your honker. Friends recently back form Vietnam and Cambodia, said hotels have warning signs that fresh durian are not allowed in the hotels and that they can be charged with a misdemeanor for bringing one in. But, durian ice cream is a dessert staple.
                                                        As I am primarily a veggie these days, this is a must. But, I think you'll have to settle for a thawed one, unless you have the time and bucks to do the 10K mile jaunt for exotic fruit.
                                                        CP

                                                      4. It is hard to advise without knowing your experience. Many non-adventurous people don't want to try curry. I'd recommend Thai curry.

                                                        You may have had a curry a relative made when you were younger, or curry on the Chinese takeout menu, or even Indian or Jamaican curry, but start by going to a Thai restaurant and ordering a Yellow curry with chicken and vegetables. Yummy. Sweet. A little bit hot.

                                                        1. You'll probably have to go to the coast to get them, but get a tray of blue crabs. Ask for instructions on what and how to eat them. Messy good fun.

                                                          1. I also want a real lobster roll. One day, I will go to Maine just to have one (or two or three.)

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                              There are at least two distinct types of lobster rolls: one kind is like lobster salad (with mayo) served cold on a cold bun. The other is served warm on a buttered and griddled bun. I believe the difference is somewhat geographic. When I was in New Brunswick I enjoyed the version with mayo.

                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                The hot buttered lobster roll is found in connecticut, as such is called a Connecticut style lobster roll. much like New England clam chowder vs. Rhode Island clam chowder vs. Manhattan clam chowder. The mayonnaise based one is found pretty much everywhere else.

                                                                1. re: kubasd23

                                                                  throughout Maine you find both types, both just called lobster rolls.

                                                            2. You should try some vegetables that might initially seem out of your comfort zone. Drumsticks (Moringa oleifera, not the chicken things!), bitter gourd, green jackfruit, snakegourd, purslane, amaranth leaves, lotus root, teasle gourd, banana flower....there are so many wonderful things to try that people miss out on because they don't know how to prepare them! These days it's very easy to look onliny and look for recipes or ask for help if you don't know what to do with something, so there's no excuse not to try new things!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Muchlove

                                                                Wow! Many of these vegetables are completely new to me, and I will definitely be scouring the internet for recipes now. I hope at least a few of these might be in the local markets.

                                                              2. Tonkotsu Ramen is another must-do. This is where pork bones are slow- cooked for hours till the marrow comes out. It's supposed to be light colored, creamy with a deeply satidfying taste. Some people are quite passionate about it, hopefully including me!

                                                                1. Uni - sea urchin roe, but it must be fresh to have it raw. Just amazing stuff when it's good. When it's not fresh, it has a texture and flavor that won't go over well with a newbie. Might be safer to start with a cooked version like pasta with sea urchin sauce. Classic Italian dish. Lovely stuff.

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Bkeats

                                                                    And winter is the season for uni, so now is the time to try it.

                                                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                                                      Uni is so good that a massive bout of food poisoning I once had hasn't deterred me in the slightest from often ordering it occasionally at sushi joints.

                                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                        Ok, i've always wanted to try uni, but i don't know where I'd get some. I live in SE CT, anybody have any locations?

                                                                        1. re: kubasd23

                                                                          I'm not too familiar with SE CT, however along the shoreline in Branford there is a sushi place called Yooki Yama that has some of the best sushi I've had in CT. Ask Seyko the chef if the uni is good. If he says it is, go fo it.

                                                                        2. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                          My two experiences with uni haven't been great. Once, in Sicily, I had them cooked, as an appetizer. I think they were overcooked, because they were kind of like pencil erasers in taste and texture. The other time was as sushi, in a higher end restaurant in Toronto. The taste was reminiscent of phlegm (bile) which turned me right off. Since so many people love uni, I am convinced that there is a fresh and delicious uni out there that will win me over. Do I need to situate myself somewhere where they are being pulled from the sea?

                                                                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                            1sweetpea, that is exactly my experience with raw uni too! I won't ever “yuk” someone else’s “yum” (and I have some strange “yums” that can be “yuked” believe me) but the one time I had uni, I could barely swallow it, between the texture and the taste… I shudder when I think about it.

                                                                            1. re: cgarner

                                                                              Not my favourite thing in the world, either, but it is a textural thing to me as well.

                                                                        3. re: Bkeats

                                                                          This sounds like something I would adore, as seafood is a favorite for me. Hopefully it will be possible to find my area, which is too damn far from the coast. Is there any way you could describe the flavor? I'm quite curious.

                                                                        4. I had a friend Carl Johnson, who owns a smokehouse in Maine, cold smoked six small boxes of fresh Maine uni for me. Then I brought it to NYC and a friend, fellow chowhound Joe Distefano, wrote about it for Gourmet magazine online. Absolutely amazing stuff. Carl only smoked it for 30 minutes, but it firmed up the uni just a bit, and the light smoke and the creamy marine taste blew us away. He even got boxes segregated with all male uni in some and all female uni in others. Then I turned some chef friends, Chris Constantino, Aaron Sanchez, etc. onto it and they went wild. Then we had another chef friend, Philip, create some dishes for us. The link goes to the article if you want to read about it, and there are links to the smoke house.

                                                                          Carl might custom smoke a batch for you, with advance notice. You would have to contact him. Also he does cold smoked whole crab claws that are insanely good, packed in butter so you get the sweet crab, light smoke, and butter. He also does smoked Maine shrimp, these are the small, delicate 'ebi' sushi shrimp.

                                                                          http://www.gourmet.com/food/2008/03/s...

                                                                          1. When in Italy recently I tried donkey mortadella for the first time. Not bad at all. I do regularly eat wild boar, elk, duck, goose, pheasant, lamb and goat but this was my first time having donkey.