Category Archives: Food

Spiders in Skuon

Crickets and spiders sold in Skun

Crickets and spiders sold in Skuon

If any one has visited Phnom Penh and visited the riverside, you are going to the a bunch of deep fried creepy crawlies ready for consumption. One of the notable bugs that you will see are deep fried spiders. One of the things you have to try when you are in Cambodia is to try some of these types of street food. In all honesty, once is enough. Granted the legs are crunchy and just taste like oil, it’s the body that really put me off. Just make sure you have something to drink (preferably an Anchor smooth beer) to wash down the taste.

I’ve always been intrigued on how they were caught and when we were doing the story for  the Crickets in Kompong Thom trip, I talked to our fixer and made a detour to Skuon.

The lady of the spider hunting house

The lady of the spider hunting house

When we arrived, our fixer brought us to this ladies house. She told me that they haven’t hunted in a while since it wasn’t the season but offered (for a few dollars) to get her son to catch one for us.

Off to catch some spiders

Off to catch some spiders

We agreed and what follows is our quest to catch a spider.

A spider hole

A spider hole

After five minutes of walking in the forest, we came across a hole. Her son then took a shovel and dug about 6 inches into the hole.

Getting the tarantula out

Getting the tarantula out

Her son’s friend came along and showed us how to get the spider out. They took two small branches and slowly strummed the web. They also made a chirping sound while doing this.

The spider comes out. Look at those fangs!

The spider comes out. Look at those fangs!

About a minute of probing and chirping, the spider came out. When the spider showed enough of itself, the lady’s son grabbed the spider. It was really impressive to watch.

Got the spider

Got the spider

We then headed back to the village.

Not quite finished

Not quite finished

I thought we were done but she said that the spider needed to be de-fanged as the fangs aren’t edible. Right before I was about to ask her about de-fanging the spider, she started to do it.

With her bare hands.

Yowza. Defanging a spider with your hands.

Yowza. Defanging a spider with your hands.

It was really quick and I was lucky to get this image. Just after I asked if she had ever been bitten. She laughed and said lots of times. She just gets dizzy for a bit and moves on.

A defanged spider

One fang to go

She put down the semi defanged spider to let me take a photo. It really doesn’t look pretty. She asked if I wanted to eat it. I declined. She then grabbed it and tossed it into a fire. I asked her why she didn’t want to eat the spider and she simply said that she hates the taste of them. I kinda agree with her.

Fried Spider Appetizer at Romdeng

Fried Spider Appetizer at Romdeng

 

 

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Crickets in Kompong Thom

Came across some old images from a story that never ran. So here you go:
Cricket farming in  Kompong Thom

Traffic flies by the cricket traps

Traffic flies by the cricket traps

On the National Road 6 from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh about 40 kilometers from Kompong Thom sits an area that is famous for it’s crickets. The road is dotted with blue flourescent lights that attract the crickets.

Mrs. Chanta sits next to the blue fluoro lights

Mrs. Chanta sits next to the blue fluoro lights

Chanta, 33, starts work every morning at 4:00am as a cricket harvester. She makes 5 stops every morning. She is a farmer and works as a harvester on the side for extra income.

Cricket harvesting in the early morning

Cricket harvesting in the early morning

The cricket traps work as such: The crickets are attracted to the blue fluoro lights. When they jump to get closer to the light, they hit a plastic sheet and fall into a cache of water.

Sorting out the harvest

Sorting out the harvest

They can catch over 4 kilos of crickets at each farm they visit. They do an initial weighing in the dark and pay the farmer 10,000 riel ($2.50 USD) per kilo.

Cleaning the crickets

Cleaning the crickets

At Chanta’s house, the bugs are cleaned in water before sorting.

PIcking through the various sizes of crickets

PIcking through the various sizes of crickets

The crickets are sorted by weight and size. Other bugs that are in the catch are separated and sold separately. Once everything is sorted, Chanta goes to the market.

Chanta finds a buyer

Chanta sells some crickets while on the phone to a vendor in Phnom Penh.Some of the buyers are from Kompong Thom but the majority of her catch goes to Phnom Penh.

Weighing the crickets

Weighing the crickets

Chanta will sell the crickets for 20,000 (USD $5.00) Riel per kilo.

Calculating the morning's harvest

Calculating the morning’s harvest

Chanta heads back home by noon

Chanta heads back home by noon

Once she is done selling her crickets, Chanta and her husband head back home with some extra shopping.

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Quan Mama Lan

Went to Thao Dien to check out a new restaurant that my wife saw a review for in the Word magazine. Quan Mama Lan’s is a pretty chilled out place with pretty decent Hanoi food and cheap to boot. This dish was a fantastic little tidbit for a whopping 35,000VND ($1.80). Not bad huh?

Bun Dau Thit Ba Chi at Quan Mama Lan

Bun Dau Thit Ba Chi at Quan Mama Lan

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Fried crickets in Kompong Thom

UV lights dot the side of the road in Kompong Thom

UV lights dot the side of the road in Kompong Thom

On the bus back to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap, we stopped off in Kompong Chnnang for a lunch break. One of the stalls at the rest stop had crickets for sale. Deep fried and salted, they are a favored snack for many Cambodians.

Usually I am not interested in them but a few days ago, I hitched a ride with the car distributing the Phnom Penh Post to Siem Reap and saw the harvesting of the crickets in Kompong Thom. Hundreds of UV lights were set up along the road to catch the crickets.

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