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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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