World's Weirdest Dishes: Fried Tarantula from Cambodia
What is Fried Tarantula?
Tarantula is a kind of spiders and a famous specialty in Cambodia (yet scared). This spider species mainly lives in Kampong province, which is more than 200km to the southeast of Siem Reap. Right in Kampong Cham, there exists the Skun Market specialized in the insect food. It’s obvious that not everybody dares eating tarantulas in Cambodia as they are afraid of the look as well as not sure about the flavor.
To make it, Cambodians often put the live spiders onto the hot deep oil pan and stir them until they become crunchy. It should wait until the spiders get dried of oil, they sprinkle the dish with seasonings. The flavor of this deep-fried tarantula is similar to the fried crispy crab legs. Commonly dried with chili, snacks of tarantula offer the crunchy outside and the intestinal juice of the body.
People can also serve this unusual Cambodian food with black pepper and lime sauce. The price of each spider is around 1 USD.
Is it safe to eat tarantula
Eating tarantula is not an unusual event in Cambodia and if you feel adventuruous enough you can try it yourself. Yes, it is totally safe. Cambodians eat tarantulas, foreigners have started to do it too, and most people really like it.
How to dismantle a tarantula
As the spider is served in front of you, you should start with its legs. They are crunchy and taste a bit like chips. You can bite them off the body or tear them off with your hands. The sight of the hairy legs might not be promising but fear not!
Once you’re done with the legs, it’s time for the body. You should carefully crack the hard shell to reach the meat inside which is lean and tasty, a bit similar to chicken. You’ll wish there was more when you taste it. Finally, there’s the spider’s butt. Have in mind that it’s quite bitter and most foreigners will skip it. Cambodians, however, eat it too, according to 204 challenges.
History Of Edible Spiders
Edible tarantulas became a dish completely out of necessity. After Cambodia became independent from the French in 1953, life in the region didn’t improve. The fall out of the Vietnam war had terrible effects on Cambodia. Following that, in April 1975, dictator Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge in taking over the country. His mission was to return Cambodia to an independent Agrarian way of life.
Borders were closed, the cities were emptied and people were sent to work in the fields. The intelligentsia and anyone who refused to go, were murdered in mass genocide.
The country was left with a mass of young, illiterate people, returned to a rural subsistence lifestyle. Much of the food that was farmed did not go to the farmers, and was taken by the ruling class.
Starvation was inevitable. Alternative food sources, that would not be confiscated, were the only way to survive. It’s possible that edible tarantulas had been eaten in Cambodia at least since the 19th century. On a diet of only a little bit of rice for rations, edible spiders are high in protein, folic acid and zinc. So in the late 70s they became a regular meal.
It wasn’t just edible tarantulas… Scorpions and other unlikely foods became part of the diet. Of these dishes, the ones that are still eaten today are those which locals actually found palatable. Yes, to those used to eating it, edible tarantula is a great beer snack.
Edible tarantulas are easy prey for humans. Locals living in the forest find them easy to catch. Digging up their burrows and catching them as they flee.
But sadly, the natural habitat is being destroyed. Cashew and rubber plantations, along with illegal deforestation, is destroying the environment where edible tarantulas once thrived.
The price of this local delicacy is rising and it will probably eventually become a specialist food, rather than a cheap street snack. That is still a way off for now though, but things could be changing fast, as Foodfuntravel reports.
|Cambodia is known for its rich history, unique culture, and apparently, its deep-fried spiders. A regional delicacy in the country, this dish is especially popular in Skun in the Kampong Cham Province, located about an hour and a half northeast of Cambodia’s capital. The village’s spider market is especially popular with tourists, who often pass through the connector city in their travels. In it, plates heaped high with fried tarantulas await the adventurous tourist who scoffs at more commonplace snacks like pork buns and banana bunches.|
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