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Cooking with Blood: Yesterday and Today

In the Pantry

Cooking with blood may sound like something out of a horror novel or thriller flick, but culinary use of blood is a tradition that dates back thousands of years. Using blood started as a frugal measure--not wasting any part of the slaughter but it is also rich in protein, minerals such as iron, and Vitamin D.

Buying Blood

Today in the United States, blood of any type can be hard to come by if you don't know where to look. While many butchers do not sell raw blood wholesale, you may be able to ask around and find a shop that sells it to order or you may be able to find an Asian market that regularly carries fresh blood.

Before purchasing any type of animal blood, ask questions about where it comes from and how the animal was raised. This is key to ensuring that the animal was healthy. Blood-born illnesses and disease can sometimes be a problem that even proper cooking procedures cannot get rid of.

Tips for Using Blood

  • Blood spoils quickly and easily attracts bacteria. Make sure to buy only fresh blood and use it the same day.
  • Eat any cooked blood dishes immediately or freeze by the second day.
  • If the butcher does not add an anti-coagulant in the shop, then add red wine vinegar in a ratio of 1 cup of to every 6 cups of blood. This keeps the blood from thickening.
  • Freezing fresh blood mixed with vinegar is a safe way to prolong freshness. Freezing coagulated blood breaks down the bonds; the blood separates and spoils when thawed.
  • Pigs' blood is the most common and easiest to obtain, but duck or deer's blood can have a unique flavor because of the different amount of iron and other nutrients they contain.

Adding Blood to Your Diet

From duck's blood soup in Poland (czarnina), Vietnam (tiêt cahn), and Sweden (svartsoppa) to blood sausage in the UK, Germany (blutwurst), France (boudin noir), and Spain (morcilla) to Chinese blood tofu (xué doufoú) or Filipino pork blood stew (dinuguan), cooking with blood is a global phenomenon. Although eating blood can be unsettling to some, many cultures have a long history of dining on blood dishes. While blood dishes are relatively common elsewhere, they're not common in American cuisine and some cultures have religious taboos about ingesting blood. But, if you're an adventure chef in the kitchen, it might be time to broaden your culinary boundaries.

Try Something Different

Blood dishes remain popular around the globe, and those who eat blood dishes describe them as "dense with flavor," "rich," and "painfully good." If you're ready to add to your culinary repertoire, try preparing blood sausage by mixing blood with your own personal blend of fillers (meats, cereals, lard) and seasonings. Experiment until you find the perfect combination. You can use chicken blood as a thickener and flavor enhancer for coq au vin. Or, around the holidays, whip up some Scandinavian blood pancakes with dark syrup and lingonberries, although you might have a hard time finding a market the sells reindeer blood, the preferred ingredient.

Sources:

Offal of the Week: Blood.

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