“Blood tofu” is made by coagulating blood with salt and water.
Food

The different ways that Chinese people eat blood

Aug 09, 2019

Blood—it’s not just the stuff of vampires. A natural byproduct of an animal slaughter, it’s rich in protein, iron, and other minerals, and is a culinary staple around the world.

In parts of Europe, blood sausage is the most common way to eat blood, mixed with grains, meat, and fat.

But in Asia, the selection is more diverse. In addition to blood sausage, there’s also pig blood cake—made with sticky rice as a base—and coagulated blood that takes on a texture similar to that of tofu.

Pig blood cake is usually garnished with crushed peanuts and cilantro, and served on a stick.
Pig blood cake is usually garnished with crushed peanuts and cilantro, and served on a stick. / Photo: Shutterstock

Zhenji Pig Blood Cake in Taiwan has been selling pig blood cakes on sticks for 16 years, and they continue to be a crowd favorite there.

“The inside is sticky rice mixed with a bit of pork blood,” says Mr. Jiang, the owner. “Most blood cakes have visible kernels of rice. We smash the rice so you can’t see the kernels.”

The cake is served on a stick and garnished with crushed peanuts and cilantro. Needless to say, the snack has stood the test of time.

But it’s not the only blood dish you can find in China. From duck blood tofu to snake blood wine, here are five foods that will change the way you see this classic ingredient.

Duck blood tofu served in a bowl of vermicelli and soup is a specialty of Nanjing.
Duck blood tofu served in a bowl of vermicelli and soup is a specialty of Nanjing. / Photo: Shutterstock

Duck blood tofu with vermicelli 鸭血粉丝汤 

Duck is a specialty in the southern Chinese city of Nanjing, and locals here have a dish where the blood is cooked with vermicelli, herbs, and an assortment of duck offals.

(Read more: Everything you need to know about tofu and how Chinese people eat it)

The blood is turned into tofu-like cubes through a process known as coagulation. The texture is like that of silken tofu—soft but with a bit of a resistance.

Maoxuewang, another duck blood dish, hails from Chongqing.
Maoxuewang, another duck blood dish, hails from Chongqing. / Photo: Shutterstock

Maoxuewang 毛血旺

This is another dish made with duck blood tofu, but it hails from Chongqing, a megacity in the southwest known for its affinity for spice.

True to form, this dish is heavy on the chili peppers and peppercorn. Blood tofu is paired with chicken gizzard, tripe, and beansprouts for a diverse textural mix.

In Chongqing and neighboring Sichuan Province, blood tofu is also a popular hot pot ingredient.

(Read more: A guide to all the Chinese hot pot styles)

The blood cubes absorb the hot pot soup, giving them a flavorful kick known as mala 麻辣 (mouth-numbing spice).

Sticky rice is soaked in blood and soy sauce to make pig blood cake.
Sticky rice is soaked in blood and soy sauce to make pig blood cake. / Photo: Shutterstock

Pig blood cake 米血糕

Pig blood cake is most commonly found in Taiwan, though its origin is in Fujian Province.

The cake is mostly composed of sticky rice flavored with pork blood and soy sauce.

Zhenji Pig Blood in Taiwan steams it in a bamboo box. Other vendors might deep-fry it. Eaten alone, it’s usually coated with peanut powder for an extra kick.

Blood sausage 猪血肠

Blood sausage is a northeast Chinese specialty, made with pork blood stuffed in a pork intestine casing. It’s usually seasoned with Sichuan peppercorns, cilantro, and white pepper.

It can be eaten alone, and sometimes, it’s served with pickled cabbage and pork belly stew.

Snake blood wine 蛇血酒

Snake meat is a traditional protein in Guangdong Province, and in some places, snake blood wine is consumed for its alleged virility properties.

(Read more: Snake soup, a classic winter warmer in Hong Kong)

Blood and bile is mixed in with alcohol, and sometimes, a whole snake is submerged in for good measure.

Additional research by Jared Jiang

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