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Tasteless food you love for the texture: e.g. Sea Cucumber

Inspired by this comment on sea cucumber thread:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7642...

For me, sashimi of sea cucumber was a love at first bite: rubbery, slimy, cartilagenous, and essentially tasteless. Any other ingredient/food like it? Any cuisine that embraces texture only of an ingredient to this extent as the chinese?

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  1. Jellyfish! Essentially tasteless until dressed with vinegar, soy, sugar, and sesame oil.

    3 Replies
      1. re: seamunky

        I used to like it too... until one day, I bought a bag of it unseasoned and ready to be dressed. It reeked of a strong plasticky, metallic smell when I opened the bag, and I could not get rid of that smell from the jellyfish even after a few rounds of soaking and rinsing with boiling water. I hate wasting food but that had to go into the trash.

        That one might have been a dud bag, but it makes me wonder what kind of processing jellyfish typically goes through!

        1. I grew up in busan, a second largest city in Korea well known for ultra fresh seafood. We ate anago which is sea eel like every weekend. Also love live octopus with sesame oil and salt. Ultra fresh sashimi has firm almost chewy texture which I love. Totally different than Japanese sashimi. Probably the reason why I prefer food with texture like crunch peanut butter and jelly beans.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Monica

            Me too, one of my favourite foods for the texture is octopus as well! No live ones for me, but at least raw. I love the chewy, and ever-so-slightly rubbery/slimy texture.

            1. re: BuildingMyBento

              Cheese that doesn't have much taste? How do you eat this normally? Curious...

              1. re: Kurtis

                I only ever eat it at Ethiopian restaurants, often with lentils but more likely with meat.

                1. re: BuildingMyBento

                  Ha, will try this soon. Thanks for this.

            2. Tapioca Pearls
              Rice Cakes (the Asian Kind)
              Agar-agar Jelly
              Liang Fen – Cold Mung Bean Jelly Noodles

              1 Reply
              1. re: chefj

                Now I want a bubble tea with that chewy tapioca

              2. Konnyaku. I love the gelatinous, rubbery texture.

                1. Wood ear mushrooms for stir-fry. I think they are used in soups too. You buy them in dried form from Chinese groceries.

                      1. I am keying on the phrase "essentially tasteless".

                        Think about your local hot dog emporium with a menu of 50 plus toppings. When was the last time you ordered something for the hot dog?

                        Fast food French fries. It is all about the condiment that goes on them.

                        Fish fillet at most restaurants. Tilapia and Asian catfish have been subbing for many salt water species.

                        Shark fin soup. The shark adds a thickening cartiligenous factor, but little or no flavor.

                        Chicken feet. Like french fries, it is more about the added flavors. Unless you forget to trim and clean under the nails.

                        1. Chicken feet (boiled, unseasoned)

                          Fish eyeballs

                          Cheerios

                          7 Replies
                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              My 5 yr old got into fish eyeballs...she eats the eyeballs first then the fish skin...she only eats crispy part of chicken skin when roasted. then she comes home and complain how bad her school lunch is.

                              1. re: Monica

                                Awesome.

                                When my grandmother was still with us and we would have whole fish, the eyes were always reserved for her out of respect. The rest of us would play paper, rock, siscors for the head.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  then who ate the actual meat?? lol

                                2. re: Monica

                                  Oh, the fewd between my sister and I over those fish eyeballs as she magically managed to give me the emptied sockets! (It's in there, you swallowed it, dummy!)

                                  1. re: Monica

                                    That sounds like a great Simpsons episode. Lunch lady serving up fish eyeballs.

                                3. Looking at the list of items that comes up, I think it's quite possible that Asians more readily accepted some of these more texture-driven items (weird to many) than the westerners in part due to the purported medicinal benefits. Anyways, thanks for the interesting list.

                                  1. Swimming against the current here: I write to admit to my humiliating failure to like shirataki. I'd always thought that something like jellyfish or sea cucumber would be interesting because of its flavorless crunch, so when someone gave us several bags of assorted shirataki I was eager to experiment with them. There was one bag that was very much like salad macaroni, so I used them in a chili mac. Well, they didn't absorb any flavor, and were frankly a bit repellent, I thought. The next day I reheated the leftovers, figuring they'd have absorbed something overnight, but if anything they were even LESS flavorful, and even more rubbery. After a few more futile stabs at coming up with something even remotely palatable I had to give up. I've always been maybe a bit too proud of my tendency to like almost anything I've eaten, so this, involving a food item which I had fully expected to like a lot, was a sad and bitter defeat.

                                    However, I do like tofu now; though I usually zap it with some flavor, the version that won me over was deep-fried cubes, flavorless except for the aroma of frying.

                                    1. Bamboo shoots. And potatoes.

                                      1. Shirataki
                                        Fish eyes
                                        Fish bones
                                        Wood ear mushrooms
                                        Bird's nest
                                        Cartilage
                                        Wonder Bread

                                        1. I like tendon in my pho. It has a nice texture and goes well with the meat, noodles and broth. I've had pho with tripe, but I don't really like that texture.