In Japan, the slicing of live seafood is known as ikizukuri and is employed as a way to ensure freshness, particularly since the meat is then eaten raw as sashimi. For China and particularly its island paradise of Taiwan, a few styles of preparation involve eating seafood while it is still alive, such as ying yang fish. This method involves scaling, gutting and then battering the lower half of a live carp, then holding it by the mouth and frying its bottom half in oil. Once partially cooked, the still-live fish is doused in a sweet-and-sour sauce and served while still moving its mouth.
According to The China Post, ying yang fish is also called "dead-and-alive fish" by the Chinese. The dish was especially popular as many as three decades ago in Taiwan's Taoyuan County — the paper states, when area restaurants sought customers by touting the ultimate freshness of their ingredients. Most chefs in 2011, however, appear to shun the practice of eating the creatures while still alive, perhaps due to overwhelming outrage from animals rights groups.
China started to crack down on the practice of preparing ying yang fish, or yin yang yu, in the 21st century, particularly on its satellite island of Taiwan. Though some consider the method ideal for displaying the freshness of a kitchen's seafood, not all Chinese are on board. A few online reports on the practice indicate fairly widespread abhorrence for the practice, even among the 1,300,000,000 Chinese people.
Nevertheless, the preparation of ying yang fish appears to be holding on throughout China. According to The Telegraph of the United Kingdom, a viral video in 2009 showed the method to be an apparently still-used novelty practice that drew the ire of more than 100,000 viewers within a week. After the non-profit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) railed against the practice, calling it "disgusting," a Chinese official pointed to the western traditions of fox hunting and bullfighting to show how all cultures have customs that might be perceived as repugnant.
Another live-food Chinese delicacy that draws the ire of some animal rights groups is called drunken shrimp. In western cultures this name is used to describe a range of booze-laced cooked shrimp dishes, but in China the shrimp are eaten while alive and swimming drunk on a sweet style of alcohol called baijiu. This drunken imposition reportedly makes the shrimp a little easier to behead and eat while still twitching.