Is it really gourmet? Enjoy fried tarantulas in Cambodia –

Tarantulas are a popular delicacy in Cambodia.

2017.03.25 Saturday 18:33 JST release

(CNN) The tarantula dangling from its mouth looks dead, but it’s still scary. Objectively speaking, the taste is not bad, more like crab. But given that scientists believe taste is largely influenced by how it looks and smells, it wouldn’t be surprising if I made up my mind the moment I saw this furry beast.

“feeling unwell”

Fry a tarantula traditionally with the guidance of an expert in Siem Reap, northwest Cambodia. But the result is the same. The smell and taste of garlic alone cannot overcome its nightmarish appearance.

In parts of Asia, tourist areas sell boiled insects for tourists looking for unusual photos. However, most locals generally do not enjoy eating these insects. Just a ploy to scam tourists out of their money.

But the Cambodian tarantula is another story. Tarantulas are considered a delicacy, with large ones selling for as much as $1. That’s a lot of money in a country where the minimum wage is about $6 a day.

Cooking instructor Auchi Rattana makes a living selling fried tarantulas on the streets of Siem Reap. Through an English translation, Oher pointed out that Cambodians are very fond of eating spiders. He said he sometimes sold dozens of them. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer, but it’s expensive and only served on special occasions like birthdays.

Tarantulas were introduced to Cambodian cuisine out of necessity.

Tarantula Fly Challenge

Under the regime of the Khmer Rouge, the radical communist movement that ruled Cambodia in the 1970s, poverty and hunger increased and people began eating whatever they could get their hands on, according to the interpreter.

Some of these creatures, such as tarantulas, scorpions, silkworms and grasshoppers, were delicious and remained a part of Cambodian cuisine long after food shortages ended.

Most of the tarantulas Auchi sells come from Kampung Chan, more than 200 kilometers southeast of Siem Reap. Here, hunters spend days looking for nests, and when they find them, they kill the tarantulas inside by inserting them or filling them with boiling water. Most of it will be cooked in a pot like Mr. Ouchi’s.

In Auchi’s cooking class, you can also learn how to cook silkworms and grasshoppers. “Unique” is the best word to describe the reporter’s experience in Alchi.

First, pick three extra-fat tarantulas and drop them into a milky mixture of sugar, salt, and water. After it is fully soaked, remove it by hand and fry it in a colander. Auchi emphasizes that the frying time should be under 45 seconds. “That way it’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside,” he says.

I had hoped that frying would make the tarantula look more appetizing.

Crispy Fried Tarantula

However, such good luck did not come.

When I lifted the filter, it looked little changed except for a few burnt hairs.

Ozzie handed one of them to the reporter and motioned him to eat it. I try not to hold back. Mr. Auchi and his interpreter are very fond of freshly fried tarantulas, so they didn’t want to spoil the atmosphere.

The thin, brittle legs seemed best when I held the tarantula up in front of my face. However, the interpreter, seeing that I was escaping the easy choice, advised me: “Let’s eat the tastiest part of the body first. The body is tastier. The legs are not as tasty.”

Seconds later, my teeth gnawed through the tarantula’s body, entrails spreading into its mouth. “Crab, crab, crab, it tastes like crab,” I kept saying to myself.

I wish I hadn’t seen a tarantula in the first place.

This article was contributed by freelance photojournalist Ronan O’Connell.

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