Eating brains isn’t just for zombies
“I’m gonna eat your brains and I’m gonna gain your knowledge”
Pig brain exists in the far reaches of adventurous eating for many people,but in Chengdu they are loved for their rich, pudding like texture and ability to soak up the flavors they are cooked in. Delicately referred to as ‘brain flower’ and prepared in a variety of styles and flavors there’s sure to be a way you can find a brain that you’re going to love – or at least one that you’ll try.
Here are our picks for the top 5 ways boost your brain power in Chengdu:
Roast Brains 烤脑花
At just about any shaokao (BBQ) around the city you can order a ‘roast brain’. Cooked on a grill, but in a dish filled with chili oil and spices this version is really a combination of ‘kao’ and ‘mao’ styles (roast and boiled in sauce). It is hot and spicy and topped with a range of ingredients that can include fermented soy beans, garlic, chili and fresh chopped green onions and celery making it virtually unrecognizable as a brain. So you can just dig in and forget what you are eating, and enjoy the delicate deliciousness.
Hot Pot Brains 火锅脑花
Cooked right in the hot pot, this is a textural experience of the mala flavors in the opposite end of the spectrum from bean sprouts and chicken gizzards that are known for their crunch. It soaks up all of the hot pot goodness and delivers it in soft, rich mouthfuls. Don’t let it cook too long or it will get too soft and start to come apart and you will lose it to the soup. This style can also be ordered at Chuan Chaun, though it is cooked and served separately since it can’t be skewered properly.
Mapo Tofu Brains 脑花豆腐
This is usually the easiest way to get into eating brains, or trick your unsuspecting friends into eating them without knowing. Unlike the other methods, the brains here are chopped up into small pieces, the same size and shape as the tofu they accompany, and are prepared in the mapo tofu style. They don’t look like brains and they taste like mapo tofu, but with slightly softer and more buttery feel than usual. If you’re feeling uneasy about the whole idea of eating brains, this is the place to start.
吃什么补什么 Chi Shenme Bu Shenme
Feeling a bit dim? The saying goes ‘you enhance what you eat’. That is to say, eating brains will make you smarter. There’s only one way to find out!
Stewed Brains 卤脑花
Cooked in the Sichuan style ‘Lu Shui’, sometimes translated as ‘master sauce’ these pig brains are boiled and marinated in a complex series of spices. This might be the brainiest of all the options as it looks very vividly like a brain, and hides behind nothing. But done well, the flavors are amazing. And once you can get into the rich pudding-like texture this can be one of the best ways to experience it.
Pig Brain Noodles 脑花面
Bored of braised beef and pork ribs on your noodles? Why not toss a stewed pig brain on top instead. A relatively new development, pig brains noodles are hip right now. The textural combination of the soft brains with noodles makes it unlike other meaty noodles and more like ‘douhua mian’ or soft tofu noodles. But it still soaks up all the noodle sauce and serves as a lovely little pillowy vessel for all the flavor.
Get smart. Eat brains.
We have options for eating pig brains in one form or another on all of our tours, but don’t worry, we won’t trick you into it without your knowing…. Or will we?