Tis the season, so I thought I'd share my own recipe for deep fried tarantula, in case anybody out there wants to serve them at tomorrow night's Halloween party. Usually I try to allocate one tarantula per guest, so you'll have to adjust the recipe depending on how many diners you're serving. It's actually amazingly easy to prepare, and the live spiders can be frozen until you're ready to use them (note to animal rights' activists -- freezing is a painless and humane death). Tarantulas can be purchased from many pet stores -- Pet Supermarket and Mark's Ark in Lake Worth usually have them.
Gail's Crispy Tarantulas
6 live or frozen tarantulas
1 tbs coarse sea salt
1 tsp Spanish style smoked paprika -- hot or sweet
1 tsp brown sugar
2 cloves fresh garlic
3 cups peanut oil
Combine paprika, MSG, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (an aquarium works well if the spiders are still alive). Toss spiders in the mixture, or sprinkle it over them and let them walk around in it for awhile until they're thoroughly coated --the spice mixture will get caught in their little hairs.
Meanwhile, heat peanut oil in large pot or wok until just below the smoking point. Add garlic (be careful not to burn it). When oil is ready toss spiders into the pot as quickly as possible and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until they are golden and the legs are crispy. To test for doneness: Legs should be crackly, interior of head the consistency of white chicken, and abdomen just slightly runny.
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Serve on individual plates with a wedge of lemon. If you'd like them to taste a bit more authentic, or Cambodian style, substitute MSG for the Spanish paprika. Here's how they look in Phenom Pen: