Skip

Have norms surrounding eating chicken changed over time?
January 10, 2013 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Was there ever a period in time before widespread acceptance of germ theory, or, is there a current culture where raw or undercooked chicken is an accepted part of cuisine?

As I was making dinner I was wondering what it would be like if we ate chicken with a sear on it instead of fully cooked, much like we eat tuna. This made me think about whether or not the taboo against uncooked chicken is a recent historical invention, or if it's something that's persisted since they were domesticated.
posted by codacorolla to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know that in northern Thailand they eat larb, a minced chicken salad, raw. Or at least I know that the cookbook 'True Thai' says so. I don't know if that practice is current now, but the book, which was probably written in the late 90's or early 00's, gave the impression that it was current at the time of writing.
posted by TheRedArmy at 4:25 PM on January 10, 2013


Torisashi is raw chicken sashimi, served in Japan, and ever so occasionally, in the United States.
posted by saeculorum at 4:26 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Note that the interior of chicken muscles are sterile, just like beef.
posted by ssg at 4:34 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


A Japanese restaurant here in Berkeley serves both chicken tartare and rare chicken. The linked article is mostly about why raw and rare chicken, properly handled, doesn't spell immediate doom, but there's a mention of other Japanese restaurants in the US that have served it, too.

(I've had the rare chicken, and it did indeed remind me of seared tuna!)
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:34 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Oops, it's a different article about the same place that mentions other US Japanese restaurants serving raw/rare chicken.)
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:36 PM on January 10, 2013


Had this at a Chinese restaurant one time and it was great, and rare.
posted by 445supermag at 4:37 PM on January 10, 2013


I've eaten torisashi (in Nagoya, Japan) and lived to tell about it. It didn't remind me of anything specific (didn't "taste like chicken"!) but wasn't as awful as one might imagine. (What I'd imagined, anyway, was a mouthful of stringy, chewy, un-swallowable meat, but I remember that it bit cleanly, like most other sushi, and was easy to wash down with crisp, Japanese beer!)
posted by spacewrench at 4:40 PM on January 10, 2013


Some hippie types I used to know would make chicken ceviche (after becoming experts at fish/seafood ceviche). They claimed it was a "normal Mexican dish" but they were not Mexican, so I cannot verify that.
posted by holyrood at 4:40 PM on January 10, 2013


I believe this is a relic from the early days of industrial meat preparation (for a barf fest that focuses on beef instead of chicken, read The Jungle). Healthy chickens slaughtered with proper hygiene are no more likely to make you sick than any other animal.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:15 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Healthy chickens slaughtered with proper hygiene are no more likely to make you sick than any other animal.

It's not just proper hygiene - it's easier to cleanly gut a large animal than it is a small one, and if your doing more than one at a time (more likely with smaller animals unless you're either a massive slaughter house or killing one chicken for dinner that evening) and screw up, you're likely to contaminate everything you do after that.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:29 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some hippie types I used to know would make chicken ceviche (after becoming experts at fish/seafood ceviche). They claimed it was a "normal Mexican dish" but they were not Mexican, so I cannot verify that.

I've seen Cebiche de Pollo on menus in Peru. I never had the nerve to order it though.
posted by piedmont at 6:05 PM on January 10, 2013


Raw chicken isn't, strictly speaking, all that uncommon in Japan. Most izakayas have either torisashi, or tori tataki, which is seared on the outside, raw in the middle. In addition, raw eggs are pretty common, either tamago-kake-gohan (raw egg over a bowl of hot rice) or sukiyaki (where the beef and vegetables are dipped in raw egg as a condiment).

Most Japanese people I've talked to about it think it's odd how squeamish Americans are about raw chicken, but then again, salmonella outbreaks aren't all that common here.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:24 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Most cookbooks I've read with recipes for chicken liver advocate cooking it rare.

Here in the UK we've never eaten chicken raw, to my knowledge. Francis Bacon died a much publicised death in 1626 after eating a raw fowl stuffed with snow and people still remember it now.

Mrs Beeton, of ye olde cookbook fame, tells a story of French huntsmen eating game birds raw (search for Brillat Savarin in her book).

There is a long thread on this topic on Chowhound.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:15 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read a raw food movement cookbook that said eating chicken rare is good for you (not saying that I agree)
posted by saraindc at 3:21 AM on January 11, 2013


Tori tataki was AMAZING. spacewrench gives a nice description: tender, warmed, full of chickeny flavor, and a light saltiness from the preparation. I must have had mine in Tsukuba...

(This from someone who comes from a house with pretty strict hygiene/food safety interests, who in her own home avoids buying and cooking meat because of the limited shelf life.)
posted by whatzit at 3:36 AM on January 11, 2013


It's certainly possible to eat chicken like steak - safely. All you need to do is cook it sous vide for several hours (depends on temperature and thickness) till it has been pasteurized and then sear. Modernist Cuisine talks quite a bit about how to do so.

I did this and cooked some chicken breast to medium-rare. It... wasn't bad, but I haven't made it again either.
posted by nolnacs at 6:23 AM on January 11, 2013


The major danger is that chicken, being as small as they are, are difficult to slaughter without accidentally, sometimes, opening the GI tract on the chicken and thus germs get on the chicken.

That said, the germs get on the outside of the chicken parts; not to say you can just rinse them off, but cooking the exterior surface of chicken is probably going to be enough. I swear I saw some "undergood" bird being enjoyed in some culinary or food-travel show lately. Anyway, these doesn't work for ground chicken, whose contaminated surfaces are everywhere in the meat, the grinder etc. so the whole mass is basically innoculated, and for chicken parts that have been processed in such a way as to glue scraps together (probably chicken nuggets/strips, loaves and other non-natural forms of chicken meat).
posted by Sunburnt at 7:43 AM on January 11, 2013


I have a brewing book with some sort of old recipe using a whole chicken. Chicken beer.
posted by yohko at 12:56 PM on January 11, 2013


MuffinMan, your link says nothing about Francis Bacon actually eating the bird, it seems to imply he got pneumonia after being exposed to the cold snow.
posted by yohko at 1:01 PM on January 11, 2013


« Older So I'm working on this documen...   |  Anybody have any experience wi... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post