It's been a rough year for China's food industry. Melamine in milk. Melamine in eggs. Melamine in chicken feed. Now there seem to be problems with duck blood. Apparently, some if it is fake! Now, you may be asking, what in the world is fake blood doing in a duck. Well, it's not in the duck, it's in the soup. (This is China. Always check the soup. Always!)
A favorite eating experience in northern China (especially in the winter) is Hot Pot. Each table has a big cauldron of boiling broth (sometimes salty, sometimes flaming spicy) into which diners heap all their favorites: cabbage, rice noodles, mutton (to name but a few). Once the meat is cooked and the noodles and vegetables have soaked up the flavor, grab it with a chopstick and dip into a yummy sauce (sesame is the best). It's all really quite delicious.
Here in Beijing, one popular ingredient for hot pot is duck blood toufu–congealed duck blood cut into handy cubes–all the better for grabbing with chopsticks. Danwei.org summarizes an article that appeared in a local paper today about local blood vendors passing off pig and cattle blood as duck blood:
Duck blood formed into cubes, known as "duck blood tofu" (
the duck blood on Beijing's market is actually cheaper pig or cattle
blood. Even worse, like many other foods in the country, it has not
been untouched by the safety issue. The article quotes a blood vendor who says, "for many years,
customers have gotten used to fake duck blood. If we suddenly start
selling them real duck blood, they would be suspicious." At a blood tofu manufacturer, the reporter also found four plastic
barrels containing unidentified liquid that later tested for high level
of toxic formaldehyde. Though tests showed that formaldehyde levels in
blood tofu was lower than the state standards allows, formaldehyde's
instability may make the test unreliable.
I love the blood vendor's retort — hey, everyone's so used to the fake stuff, they'd think something was odd if they suddenly had the real stuff!!!
So the next time you're out for hot pot, make sure the duck blood is real!!!