Greg Hunter

Eating My Way Around The World: Spicy Duck Neck

In Food on August 26, 2009 at 2:29 PM

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There are so many varieties of food in the world that it can be exhausting to even think to try all of them. Though we might fail, we at the Gutter pledge that whatever is placed in front of us—where in the world we may find ourselves sitting down to eat—we’ll eat it, and if it’s interesting enough, tell you about it.

A few weeks ago, while sitting at a Hot Pot restaurant, I tried duck vocal chord for the first time, it was simultaneously chewy and crunchy, but it didn’t taste like much. It was like eating a potato chips distant half cousin. But a few days ago, when I was offered the full duck neck—and spicy neck no less—I knew I couldn’t turn it down.

Duck Neck is sold in Shanghai at meat vendors all around the city. You’d expect large cuts of meats to hang in the windows of most butchers, but these vendors have bins and bins of different lumps of meat. I didn’t ask what the other cuts of meat were, but had I asked, I know I wouldn’t have understood any of their names. In China, Duck Neck is a standard finger food for eating with beer, a kind of Chinese chicken wings that would be sold at Chinese bars if they existed.

Read on for more pictures and video of me eating the Essence of Duck Neck

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The neck is chopped by the butcher into one or two inch segments with the shape of a particularly tall piece of sushi, and bagged. I think the baggie I got had maybe 25 pieces. The first piece I took, I popped the entire piece in my mouth; the out layer of meat was stringy like very moist beef jerky. I bit down and crunch. I got a mouthful of bone.

In fact, the correct way to eat Duck Neck is much like eating chicken thigh: nibble first on the outside, then pop the different spine bones apart and suck out the spinal chord and any remaining meat. The spinal chord is know as the essence of the neck, but I wasn’t able to taste anything particularly interesting about it.

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Left: My my attempt at eating the meat off the bone compared with my roommates' skill. Right: Essence of Duck Neck

The neck comes in different varieties of spiciness. I had the moderately spicy kind, which was still pretty spicy. Yicen had the most spicy, and damn, it was spicy. I don’t think I’ve had my mouth burned that badly before, and I only had a little bit. The spiciness doesn’t immediately assault you, but it sneaks up after  a minute or two. The taste, especially the spices used, are unique. I burped about thirty minutes after eating the neck, and I still could taste the peculiar aroma.

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  1. Indigestion, anyone??

  2. Just had curdled duck’s blood. http://www.odditycentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/duck_blood_soup3.jpg for a picture of the raw thing, though the cooked version doesn’t look too different.

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