1 Fish Bladder Soup
These dried swim bladders of fish, known as maw, are both firm and spongy. They take on the flavor of broths, as in this classic chicken‑broth‑based soup with crabmeat and egg whites.
➜ Irvine’s Capital Seafood also offers a fish maw‑crabmeat soup.
2 Sea Cucumber
Westerners wonder why anyone would eat this soft, bland creature. We sampled the Japanese spike cucumber plated alongside goose web, with a flavorful sauce that helps it shine.
➜ Seafood Cove in Westminster offers a dozen sea cucumber dishes, among them a spicy seafood hot pot.
3 Geoduck Clam
King clam is large, firm, and savory with a heavenly crunchiness. Also called geoduck, it’s highly prized in Asian cooking, and here it’s served as sashimi with papaya.
➜ Sam Woo in Irvine serves geoduck several ways, including as sashimi, sauteed, and deep‑fried
Neutral in flavor, jellyfish can be cut thin, like noodles, or chunky like this version served in aged vinegar broth.
➜ Peking Gourmet in Garden Grove offers a cold dish with shredded cucumber and garlic sauce.
Abalone is similar in taste and texture to calamari. The menu offers Japanese double dragon, a high-quality variety you’ll need to order a week in advance.
➜ 21 Oceanfront in Newport Beach serves breaded and remoulade-enhanced abalone medallions.
HUNGRY FOR MORE EXOTICS?
At Destination Seafood House in Westminster, you’ll find conch—super‑firm, presented in its beautiful shell—grilled with garlic butter; sizzling whelk (large sea snails) grilled with peppercorn and served with ginger sauce; sea snails steamed with chile lemongrass; blood clams grilled with butter and green onions; and razor clams in lemon butter sauce.