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Photo: Epicurious

For fish lovers, there are certainly places in the world that offer the cream of the fish dish crop. However, there are also plenty of dishes from other cultures that seem anything but appealing. In this article, KnowInsider tells you about five of them.

1. Lutefisk (Norway)

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Photo: The Spruce Eats

Lutefisk dates its history all the way back to Viking times. This dish is made from dried white fish (usually being cod of ling) which is kept in water for a number of days, after which it is placed into a lye solution until the fish turns into a jelly-like substance. However, this is not the end of the process for the fish, particularly as, at this stage, it could kill anyone that eats it. So following the lye soaking it is then soaked in freshwater for around a week.

Lutefisk is well known for its strong smell, which has seen it earn the nicknames of ‘weapon of mass destruction’, ‘rat poison’ and ‘fork destroyer’; hardly descriptions that are worthy of a Marks and Spencer advert.

2. Fugu (Japan)

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Photo: The Manual

Fugu is the famous fish that has to be prepared correctly else the person can meet a rather unseemly end. Chefs, therefore, have to hold a special qualification in order to make this dish, and no wonder, given that they have to leave a little bit of the poison in the fish in order to create the tingling feeling that people eat this fish for.

3. Sannakji (Korea)

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Photo: Wikipedia

Sannakji may not technically be a fish, rather it is an octopus cut into pieces when still alive, but we feel that the fact that the octopus’ legs may still be moving when served means that it makes for a worthy entry on this list. What is more, people eating this dish also find that the suckers stick to their mouth, tongue and teeth in the last hurrah before being eaten, appetizing stuff, right?

4. Tuna Eyes (Japan)

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Photo: New Fresh Foods

If you have a penchant for food that looks right back at you then Tuna eyes could be the dish for you. You can opt for it being cooked or fresh, and it’s generally seasoned and flavored with soy sauce and garlic.

5. Shirako (Japan)

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Photo: Sunny Side Circus

We have certainly left the least appealing until last. This dish from Japan looks like a nice, creamy sauce, and it is generally eaten during the winter months. However, its appearance may belie what this is actually made from (that being cod milt); and cod milt is simply a fancy term for fish sperm… yes, you heard right! This is a winter dish because fish sperm (and the additional fluids that are taken from the fish) are in season only during the winter. The sack that this delicacy comes in is famed (by its fans at least) for having a melt in the mouth sensation that very similar to butter; it is also very often compared to pigs brains.

6. Stinkheads (The USA)

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Photo: Clipseum

Although the name of this fish meal sounds like something you’d yell at your childhood nemesis on the playground, it’s actually extremely popular among the Inuit population in Alaska. A stinkhead is prepared by chopping the head off a King Salmon, wrapping it in grass or burlap, and then left to ferment in special burial pits. Not hard to guess where the name comes from…

7. Hakarl (Iceland)

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Photo: Fine Dining Lover

Hakarl is an Icelandic dish prepared from Greenland sharks. These sea creatures have no urinary tract, so they excrete all the toxins in their body through their skin, making them poisonous to eat. But, as we’ve learned so far, the fact that food is toxic doesn’t seem to be much of a deterrent. To make Hakarl, the shark flesh is chopped up into pieces and buried in gravel (or placed in a bin with holes in it).

Depending on the season, the meat is left from six weeks to several months. During this time, it rots and all the deadly uric acid seeps out of the skin. Now the shark meat is hung up in a shed, out of the sun, to dry for two to four months. The wind blows away the smell and turns the outside of the shark's flesh brown. Once it’s dried, the brown outside is cut off, leaving pure white shark flesh that tastes (depending on whether you like it or not) like a strong cheese with a hint of ammonia, or like eating solidified pee.

Fish sauce

Fish sauce is made by putting small, freshly caught fish in barrels or jars of saltwater. These containers are left sitting in the sun for nine months to a year, to allow the fish to ferment. Periodically, the barrels are opened to air out and give the final product a special aroma (you can probably guess what that is) and its characteristic red-brown color. Then, once enough time has passed for the fish to be thoroughly decomposed, the barrels are drained through a spigot at the bottom and all the rotten fish juice flows out into jars. These are aired out for a while to make the smell a little less overpowering and then, voila, the fish juice is ready to add to your favorite Thai dish.

So there you have it, seven of the world’s most weird fish delicacies. We are hedging our bets that you are not rushing to find stockists for any of these dishes.

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