Grilled Ice Cubes Are The Latest Trendy Snack Hitting Street Carts In China

No one should be judged for enjoying late-night eats after having a few drinks with friends. However, street food cart vendors in China may have pushed the envelope too far with what they are now selling to customers.

In a night market in Changsha, Hunan Province, a very low-fat snack has garnered a lot attention on social media. For around $2, customers can purchase spiced and barbecued ice cubes prepared over an open flame. Yes, that's frozen water seasoned with "chili powder, ground cumin, chopped scallions, coriander, and other garnishes," according to the New York Post.

Marketed by vendors as a specialty from Northeast China, the roots of this trendy snack have been disputed by a senior official involved in making such distinctions in that region, saying, "There is no such thing as grilled ice cube snacks in the northeast. This is a fabrication by the street vendor."

Still, customers are buying the icy treat, carefully picking them up with chopsticks, prompting more street cart vendors to take advantage of the trend. Grilled ice can be found in different sizes and shapes, mopped with barbecue sauce and other seasonings.

Grilled ice isn't the only unusual snack trend

If you think barbecued ice is unusual, then another tasty snack trend reported by Today Online, hailing from a night market in Hubei, Hunan Providence, China, may interest you. Earlier this year, a food vendor sold "suo diu," aka stir-fried rocks, for roughly $2.30 or 16 yuan. 

These smooth river rocks are sauteed with garlic, purple perilla, rosemary, and chilis. Purple perilla is in the mint family and coincidentally used by some as an antidote to food poisoning. The dish, which translates to "suck and throw away," is not meant to be eaten but sucked on and "served to complement the taste of other ingredients," according to the chef.

The pebbles can be reused or taken home by the customer as a "souvenir" that can be passed down through generations. CNN reports that suo diu was "enjoyed" by boatmen hundreds of years ago. According to the legends, stranded riverboatmen cooked the stones with condiments to "find happiness in the bitterness" and stave off hunger. Still, there are concerns regarding the cleanliness of reusing the rocks and the potential choking hazard if one is accidentally swallowed.