The Art of Darkness

Black Chicken and Other Unexpected Foods

February 15th, 2012 by Cobwebs

SilkieOne of the best things about running this blog is the suggestions for interesting stuff that people send me. “Cookie” dropped me a line the other day to mention the Chinese batnut (Trapa bicornis, which is also, I find out, called a devilnut, water caltrop, buffalo nut, and several other names all related to the fact that they’re black and spiky and evil-looking). They’re toxic when raw, but when cooked they’re apparently somewhat similar in flavor and texture to a chestnut.

Her note continued, “They are really impressive served with black skinned chickens, also found [at the Saigon Market].” And I went, “…black-skinned chickens?” A quick googling reveals that the chicken breed called the silkie–they’re the ones that sort of resemble the avian equivalent of a sheepdog–all have black skin and bones and greyish-black meat. Apparently they have a somewhat gamier flavor than regular chickens; there’s a bit more information about their preparation and some lovely photos here. They’re also reputed to have medicinal properties, so they’re widely available at Chinese groceries.

So. Naturally-black chickens and a vegetable that looks like a medieval torture device. Match them up with some squid ink pasta and you’ve got a wonderfully spooky dinner.

Thanks, Cookie!

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