Strange Foods – Drunken Shrimp

Drunken Shrimp (in the U.S.)
Drunken Shrimp (in the U.S.) | Source

Strange Foods – Drunken Shrimp

Have you ever eaten Drunken Shrimp in an authentic Chinese restaurant in the United States? If so, please answer these two questions:

Were the shrimp drunk? Were the shrimp alive?

“What is this?” you may be asking. "Is this a trick question?"

No trick. If the dish you were served was Drunken Shrimp – which many folks consider very tasty – then the shrimp were drunk … and the shrimp were dead.


But In parts of China, the Drunken Shrimp you are served are first immersed in a strong liquor, and then are served to you ALIVE!

The shrimp may be drunk but they still wriggle and even jump occasionally … which is genuinely unnerving.

This charming dish known as ‘qiang xia’ consists of about 22 to 25 shrimp that are very drunk and very much alive.

They are soaked in ‘baijiu’ (Chinese white liquor) for a few minutes until drunk as a skunk. Oops! I mean drunk as a shrimp.

Now the besotted shrimp after that drunken spree are very thirsty. So you may decide to marinate them in one of several sauces you can choose: sweet, sour, spicy or salty.

The thirsty shrimp thoroughly absorb the flavor of whichever sauce you choose.

These lively, inebriated shrimp are usually served in a large glass bowl with a glass top for two reasons:

to allow you to watch their drunken antics while you are eating;

to keep them from jumping into your lap.

Some Chinese believe that this dish may act as an aphrodisiac. I can’t vouch for that claim but it does seem to excite the shrimp. (laughing)

Hint: Don’t forget to break off the shrimp heads before eating. Here are two videos of genuine, live drunken shrimp being served and eaten in China.

CAUTION: If you watch these videos before dinner … you may lose your appetite.

If you watch them after dinner … you may lose your dinner.

Just wanted you to know.

How to Eat Drunken Shrimp

How to Eat Drunken Prawns

Prawn definition

A large shrimp.

Shrimp Definitions

Any of many swimming, often edible crustaceans, chiefly of the infraorder, Caridea, or the suborder, Dendrobranchiata, with slender legs, long whiskers and a long abdomen …

The flesh of such crustaceans …

The derogatory slang term for a person who is small in stature.

Bon Appetit!

Quote from Bubba in the film, “Forrest Gump”:

‘Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it.’

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2015. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."

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Comments for Strange Foods - Drunken Shrimp 24 comments

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 14 months ago from Oklahoma

Quite odd. This is not a dish I've heard of. I wonder if the alcohol helps to sterilize the shrimps?

Great hub!


Chantelle Porter profile image

Chantelle Porter 14 months ago from Chicago

I have heard the term drunken shrimp but I had no idea they were still alive. I thought they were just soaked in alcohol. I really don't think I could get one down. LOL. Great article.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 14 months ago from Arkansas

That is horrible! I want my dinner humanely "daid" before I put it in my mouth or my cookpot. Reminds me of an experiment I was told about in metaphysical school. Some psychics were experimenting with some sea creatures, crabs I think. Anyway they were the ones people toss alive into boiling water. What they found was that the crabs screamed before hitting the water. Then when they psychically told the crabs they were going to be placed into the water, the crabs were able to leave their bodies (die) before they hit, and they didn't scream. This was told for a true story, but if you wish, take it with the grains of salt they probably used in the water.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

One of the best food articles I've ever read. Informative and fun....I would expect nothing less from you.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Drbj, I had heard of "drunken shrimp" and thought it was so called because the shrimp were marinated in alcohol. I didn't realise the were still alive .. Ugh! This is not a dish I will be trying soon. Despite the famous Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) ad from years ago to promote Australia, here we call them prawns..not shrimp. Good hub, voted up.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 14 months ago from Southern Illinois

OMG, I laughed all the way through your hub, then watched the video and cracked up. I love fried shrimp, but I'm not sure I'll ever eat it again! This is your best. I throughly enjoyed it...Thank you.

To eat schrimp that's drunk and alive

Made me nauseated when they took a dive

Whatever booze they soaked 'em in

I would need a full bottle before I began. Hee..


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Larry. Does the alcohol sterilize the shrimp you asked? Absolutely. And pickles them, too. Happy to enhance your knowledge about intoxicated crustaceans, my friend. Thanks for enjoying this hub.


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

How nice to meet you, Chantelle. You were not mistaken about drunken shrimp, m'dear. In the U.S., that dish consists of shrimp that are drunk, but no longer alive.

In China where there is no FDA to rule otherwise, live drunken shrimp are a delicacy sought by many diners. Diners with a great deal of fortitude, I would add.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 14 months ago from Victoria, Australia

So glad we weren't offered this dish when we were there! Love the video.


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, MizB. I'm with you. Shrimp is one of my favorite foods - but not when they are still alive. That is an interesting story about the crabs that you shared but I doubt its veracity. Loved your line though - 'take it with a few grains of salt that they probably used for the crabs. Touche, m'dear.


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

What a super-marvelous comment, Bill. Thank you. Delighted you enjoyed this.


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

You were correct, Jodah. Ordinarily, drunken shrimp on the menu are marinated in alcohol but no longer alive. However in China, Singapore and other enchanting far East cities, the shrimp are drunk and still alive.

I remember Paul Hogan exhorting us to put another 'shrimp on the barbie,' bless his soul. I also remember that not to be forgotten line from one of his films: "You call that a knife? (pulling out his own knife) This is a knife!"


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

I love fried shrimp, too, Ruby, and they are definitely dead when we eat them so go ahead and enjoy, m'luv. Thank you for the great poetry - your poetic muse is definitely alive and well. Trust me.


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

Well, you know what they say, Blossom, forewarned is forearmed. Thanks for loving this, m'dear.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 14 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

I love shrimp, but this is the first time I've ever heard of "drunken shrimp." After much consideration, I think I'll pass on this dish. Terrific, delightful hub. :-)


drbj profile image

drbj 14 months ago from south Florida Author

I love shrimp, too, Genna. My all-time favorite in a good restaurant is coconut shrimp. Minus the alcohol. Genuine drunken shrimp that are still alive are served only in the far East . . . so far! Thanks for enjoying this hub as much as I did while writing it.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 11 months ago from Canada

Yikes - still alive? Even this kitty has to draw the line somewhere. Forewarned is indeed forearmed.


drbj profile image

drbj 11 months ago from south Florida Author

Yes, indeedy, RedElf. Drunken shrimp in the Orient are alive and kicking when served. Well, if not kicking, at least struggling. Like you, I prefer the shrimp I eat to be immobile. Thanks for the visit.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 11 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I love shrimp! I don't know if I'd try this dish or not, but it was sure fun and interesting reading your hub. Clever ending!


drbj profile image

drbj 11 months ago from south Florida Author

I love shrimp, too, Rebecca, but prefer them to be of the dead variety. Thanks for the visit and finding this fun and interesting. That Bubba knew what he was talkin' about.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 10 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Yikes, Drbj. Not sure I have the stomach for this dish, the Chinese version that is. We used to go shrimping when I was younger but we always put the shrimp on ice immediately, unless we were using them for bait. Anyhow, I love Bubba and Forrest Gump.


drbj profile image

drbj 10 months ago from south Florida Author

Have to agree with you, Peg, on the live version. It might be an entertaining meal with live drunken shrimp but I don't think I could 'stomach' them.

I do love eating inactive shrimp though and share your appreciation for Bubba and Forrest. Thanks for stopping by, m'dear.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 10 months ago from Orlando, FL

OMG...I watched the videos, well not entirely since I was about to gag! Ewww. I will never look at a shrimp or a drunk the same way again! :)


drbj profile image

drbj 10 months ago from south Florida Author

I know exactly how you feel, Linda. I like my shrimp to have passed on rather than passed out.

Thanks for stopping by, m'dear.

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