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The secret to making tarantula taste good? Batter it.

Spiders not to your liking? You could enjoy a grasshopper shish kebab instead.

YESTERDAY WE EXPLAINED how it’s unlikely that you nibble on a few spiders in your sleep, but that doesn’t mean some people don’t do deliberately.

Some people make a career of writing about and eating bugs, like David George Gordon.

His famed Eat-A-Bug Cookbook” is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, and now Gordon has released a revised and updated version, complete with new recipes and beautiful photos of dishes that actually make bugs look (sorta) delicious.

They’re also nutritious, and are a sustainable form of food. In May, the UN released a report urging people around the world to eat more bugs, as doing so might help to fight world hunger.

“80% of the world eats bugs in some form,” Gordon said. “We’re really the weirdos because we don’t eat bugs. Western ideas about taste are pretty narrowly-defined.”

For beginner bug-eaters, Gordon recommended crickets, which he said are crunchy, light, and easy to find at pet stores. He himself buys them by the thousands and then freezes them, “so they don’t hop around in the saucepan”.

Wax worms, his personal favourite, spend their lives eating honey and as a result they taste surprisingly sweet. You can buy them cheap at bait and tackle shops. When they’re cooked into his white chocolate and wax worm cookies, he told me, they taste “a little bit like pistachio nuts.”

But what about the stuff that’s harder for people to swallow (in more ways than one), like tarantulas? Gordon’s solution: deep-fry them.

Gordon shared three of his bug recipes with us. The rest are in his book, available on Amazon.

Three Bee Salad (yields 4 servings)

(Image Credit: Chugrad McAndrews)

1/2 cup (about 40) frozen adult bees; 1/2 cup (about 60) frozen bee pupae; 1/2 cup (about 60) frozen bee larvae; 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; 6 tablespoons olive oil; 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard; Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; 30 grmas bee pollen granules; Lettuce for serving; Nasturtium petals or other edible flowers for serving.

1. Bring two litres of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the adult honeybees and return to boil for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bees from the water. Pat dry with paper towels and allow to cool.

2. To the same water, add the honeybee pupae. Repeat the procedure for cooking the adult bees (but watch how you pat these little guys with the paper towels!), also allowing the pupae to cool.

3. Repeat the same process with the honeybee larvae.

4. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked adult bees, followed by the pupae, then the larvae.

5. Immediately before serving, add the bee pollen granules, stirring the mixture to ensure that the granules are evenly distributed.

6. Serve on a bed of lettuce, decorated with the nasturtium petals, a bee-utiful touch for this bee-atific dish.

Sheesh! Kabobs (yields 6 servings)

(Image Credit: Chugrad McAndrews)

12 frozen katydids, grasshoppers, or other large-bodied Orthoptera, thawed; 1 red bell pepper, cut into 11/2-inch chunks; 1 small yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

Marinade

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1 teaspoon honey; 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger; 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard; 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, thyme, and tarragon; 1/4 teaspoon salt; Pinch of freshly ground pepper.

1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a nonreactive baking dish. Add the katydids, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

2. When ready to cook, remove the katydids from the marinade and pat dry. Assemble the kabobs by alternately skewering the insects, bell pepper, and onion wedges to create a visually interesting lineup.

3. Brush the grill lightly with olive oil. Cook the kabobs 2 or 3 inches above the fire, turning them every two or three minutes and basting them with additional olive oil as required. The exact cooking time will vary, depending on your grill and the type of insects used. However, the kabobs should cook for no longer than 8 or 9 minutes.

Deep-Fried Tarantula Spider (yields 4 servings)

(Image Credit: Chugrad McAndrews)

2 cups canola or vegetable oil; 2 frozen adult Texas brown, Chilean rose, or similar-sized tarantulas, thawed; 1 cup tempura batter (scroll down); 1 teaspoon smoked paprika.

1.In a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 175°C.

2.With a sharp knife, sever and discard the abdomens from the two tarantulas. Singe off any of the spider’s body hairs with a crème brûlée torch or butane cigarette lighter.

3.Dip each spider into the tempura batter to thoroughly coat. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to make sure each spider is spread-eagled (so to speak) and not clumped together before dropping it into the hot oil.

4.Deep-fry the spiders, one at a time, until the batter is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove each spider from the oil and place it on paper towels to drain.

5.Use a sharp knife to cut each spider in two lengthwise. Sprinkle with the paprika and serve. Encourage your guests to try the legs first and, if still hungry, to nibble on the meat-filled mesothorax, avoiding the spider’s paired fangs, which are tucked away in the head region.

Tempura Batter

1 medium egg; 1/2 cup cold water; 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

1. To make the batter, beat the egg in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add the cold water, continuing to beat until evenly mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and beat gently until combined; the batter should be a bit lumpy.

2. Let the batter sit at room temperature while heating the oil.

Liz O’Connor

Recipes reprinted with permission from The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook, Revised by David George Gordon (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Chugrad McAndrews.

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