Venomous Sea Snakes

Venomous Sea Snakes

Food to Die For - Sn 1/Ep 5Food to Die For - Sn 1/Ep 5

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The black-banded sea krait, also known as "irabu" by the locals, tastes like a mix of tuna and smoked jerky. Found in the warm cave waters of Kudaka Island, just off Okinawa, this dangerous Japanese delicacy is 10 times more venomous than a cobra, and one bite could mean death within minutes. As the island’s sacred animal, it’s believed that eating irabu is the secret to long life, and was once reserved only for royalty. Follow as Guy enters dark carves with nearly no protective gear and two snake hunters that are far from what you’d expect.

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Transcript

- The fertile waters of Japan are at the heart of their traditional cuisine. This is no more apparent than on the island of Okinawa which is home to one of the more dangerous Japanese delicacies. We are in the markets in Okinawa searching for some awesome produce and possibly some sea snakes. My God, this is what we're here to find. I have never seen anything like this in my life. The black banded sea krait. Well, it turns out these little guys are extremely venomous. Just one bite from these guys in the wrong place, and you'll be dead within 30 minutes. Hunting for snakes that are ten times more venomous than a cobra. Catch that by hand? This is insane. G'day, guys, I'm Guy Turland from Bondi Harvest. And in this series, we go in search of the most wonderful ingredients that just happen to be the most dangerous to find. We travel across the globe to meet the people that have made it their life's work to collect the most prized ingredients on the planet. This guy's nuts. Welcome to Food to Die For. So this is what we've come here for. The black banded sea krait, also known as erabu by the locals. It's a gorgeous, dried sea snake. It's been smoked. Quite a labor intensive process to prepare this delicacy. It's such a delicacy that at one stage it was prized and held for only the royal family. No one else was allowed to eat this. To cook it you have to rehydrate it and then debone it. And the flesh inside is a mix between tuna and like a smoky jerky. And the price we're paying, it better be a bloody good jerky. The erabu are caught in a very special cultural practice on the island of Kudaka. As a result, the snake has come to be known as the island's sacred animal. With everything I've heard about this slithery ingredient, I'm excited to meet the fearless hunters that collect them. We're about to meet the snake hunters, and they're not what you'd expect. Meet Yoko and Setsuko. On Okinawa, the black banded sea krait are only allowed to be caught by designated traditional hunters. This is an honor that's passed down from generation to generation. Over a four month period every year, the female sea snakes swim ashore to lay their eggs. - When it gets dark, the snakes come around the rock. They put their legs in the water. When they feel the snakes, they just catch with their hand. - Wow! Wow! - [Translator] And once they've felt the snakes, they put the light on them and catch. - So, no light, standing in the water. - The snakes come to you and brush past and grab. Do they bite? - If they bite so deep; it's so dangerous. But they said, "Snakes are trying so hard to escape "from them, so they don't bite that hard." - Should I be pulling my socks up just in case? - Looking at the equipment, I don't see any gloves or protective gear. I'm starting to wonder if this is a good idea. Sadly, these guys are the last hunters in an age old practice with the younger generations not interested in passing on that tradition. And I'm soon to find out why. So we're making our way carefully down to the water's edge into what looks like a labyrinth of caves. Once we get to that spot, we have to turn out all lights. So head torches are off. And we just wait for the snakes to come to us. Torches off; turn your torches off. We make our way down into the caves. The tide's coming in, and the current's washing into these rocks exactly where she's got her legs feeling snakes. Oh, something touched me. It's so creepy. Yoko and Setsuko wait for the snakes to brush past their legs. There it is; there it is. Coming from Australia, you're taught to steer clear of all snakes. Actively looking for them to catch, crazy. Two? Oh, my God. She just caught two; look at the size of them. Tide's coming in. Just snagged two snakes, one in each hand with no gloves. Oh, my God. These snakes are ten times more poisonous than a cobra. We're sitting in a dark cave. The air is thick with humidity. Poisonous snakes are all around us. I'm feeling claustrophobic and suffocated by the heat. Whoa! What?! Another snake. It's about seven foot long and as thick as your wrist. This thing is amazing. This is crazy; the thing is massive. I just had a snake rub past my leg, and she just pulled out a seven foot long sea snake as thick as your wrist. This is one of the craziest things I've ever done. I'm here at Kana to meet revered local chef, Fujiko, an expert in local Okinawa cuisine and, of course, erabu or sea snake soup. People come from all over Japan to eat her erabu as the dish is believed by locals to be the secret to a longer life. And with five times more Okinawans living to over a hundred than anywhere else in Japan, they might be onto something. Arigatou gozaimasu. Wow. That looks amazing. Arigatou. Wow, that smells amazing. It's got pig trotters in there. The snake's been cooked and deboned. Some kombu in there as well, some seaweed, four different kinds of stock. It's a lengthy process to put this together, and I'm so excited to taste it. Oh, that is divine. So much flavor. It's like an umami explosion or bomb. That's the broth; it's time to eat the snake. Mmm, it's like smoky, soft, coats your mouth with the most amazing flavor. Wow, is it a food to die for? Is it worth jumping in caves and catching snakes by hand? I'm gonna say yes. It is divine; it's amazing. I'm going back for more. Thanks for watching. Make sure you check out all our other episodes.

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