Would you eat spiders if you are served spider food dishes? If you find them icky, you will likely refuse to even look at the dish. However, fried spiders are pretty popular in places like Cambodia.
Spiders as a Delicacy
Fried spiders are specialty snacks that have become popular among the tourists in Cambodia. They are even bred for eating in Cambodian villages such as in north Skuon. People may have started eating spiders in an attempt to alleviate the food supply shortage in the area. They mostly cook tarantulas, which are locally called ‘a-ping.’ Tarantulas are as big as a human palm. These species have been considered as edible for centuries.
The spider food dish rose to popularity in the 1990s. They are quite easy to prepare. Just toss the spiders into the mixture of sugar, garlic, and salt. Fry them until their legs grow stiff. They taste like a cross between chicken and cod. Don’t be surprised to bite into a crispy exterior only to be met by its soft interior. It has flesh in its body and head, while the legs are very thin with minimal flesh present. If you don’t really like exotic tastes, you might want to avoid the abdomen. It’s not as tasty as the other body parts because it protects the other organs of the spider and its excrement.
Tarantulas are cooked whole. You can cook them yourself, but if you happen to visit Cambodia, particularly Skuon, make sure to try this local delicacy. They are a fantastic treat for the taste buds if they are cooked straight from their burrow and fried straight away with garlic and salt. Those who have tried eating crickets might be able to compare the taste of these spiders to those insects.
When you cook tarantulas, mix them with salt, sugar, and crushed garlic. Deep fry them until you see their legs stiffen and the body organs and other body parts have grown still. Cook them fresh to enjoy their real taste. You can dip them in lime juice and pepper sauce, too. You can eat them as afternoon snacks.
Why Eat Spiders
Aside from being an exotic dish, these spider food dishes are also healthy. They are easy to catch because they can’t run all that fast. They are also easy to prepare. Health-wise, spiders are rich in proteins. Just spice them up with garlic, sugar, and salt and voila, you can enjoy a healthy afternoon snack. Even local women believe that spiders can provide them with cosmetic benefits, enhancing their beauty upon consumption. Some even see the spider legs as a helpful source of elements that can give them long, shiny hair.
The locals also believed that tarantulas can soothe back aches or breathing problems among children. When eaten with rice wine, their medicinal properties are said to increase in effectiveness.
While these spider food dishes may have been developed to appease the hunger of the starving Cambodians in the 70s during the Khmer Rouge ruling, they have now become great delicacies. Try them and be proud of yourself that you did!