As you might expect, I’ve eaten a lot of unfamiliar things on my travels. Tonight I enjoyed a plate of roasted duck heads. This is a Chinese dish that requires a little work to enjoy. There’s not really much meat on a duck’s head, but that’s not what you’re eating here. Instead, you’re looking for the brain!
The heads have been cut almost completely in half, right down the middle of the skull. Using your fingers you have to pick up the duck’s head and scoop out its brains. It may sound pretty awful, but if cooked correctly it’s actually pretty good. Bird brains have a flavor very similar to their livers which are regarded as a luxury food product. The first time I had duck brain, it did indeed remind me of Foie gras.
In the gastronomic history of China, duck’s brain was once considered a delicacy, something a host might offer the most honored guest at a dinner. These days, however, duck heads are a relatively common snack in many parts of China where they are typically stir-fried with added herbs and spices.