Dining on venomous animals like scorpions may be the last thing on your mind, but they’re a popular food in many African and East Asian countries.
They are also one the most celebrated street food in China and an even more significant survival food in the wild.
Of course, with their stinger removed.
So, what does scorpion taste like, and how can you make them safe to eat? We’ll answer these questions in this guide, so let’s get right into it.
What is Scorpion?
Scorpions are arachnids with eight legs, a pair of pincers, and a segmented body extending into a long, narrow tail with a stinger at the end.
You can imagine them as small lobsters with a tapered and forward-curved tails.
They are one of the earliest terrestrial animals with over 2000 species; about 30 to 40 species contain venom strong enough to kill a human.
They are related to spiders and mites, and their bodies measure approximately 2.5 inches on average.
Scorpions are usually associated with a desert habitat; however, they live in multiple microhabitats and may inhabit forests, grasslands, wastelands, and suburban locations, alongside humans.
In the culinary world, scorpions are a popular street food in Asian countries like China and Thailand.
They are a source of protein, fat, and energy.
They make excellent snacks and can be cooked in a variety of ways.
You can find them under rocks and logs, on bushes, trees, and walls.
In suburban areas, they are found in outdoor garages, gardens, and, sometimes, inside homes.
What Does Scorpion Taste Like?
Cooked scorpions taste like a mixture of fish and beef.
They are chewy and crunchy and take on the flavor of the seasonings you add during and after preparation.
Scorpions feel dry on the palate and are inherently bitter.
Many claim they taste similar to chicken, but there’s more to the taste of a scorpion, and it all starts and ends with its crispy exoskeleton.
This is because they contain very few amounts of soft meat.
Once you bite through the outer shell, you aren’t introduced to a soft meaty texture.
Instead, the crispy exterior is almost everything you’ll find on a scorpion.
This also means you will need a couple of scorpions to feel full.
While it is rare to eat scorpions raw, they taste like soft-shell seafood.
You can compare them to shrimps and crabs, but with a milder umami flavor.
Since they lack flavor when raw, consider using a dipping sauce like soy or hot pepper sauce to enhance the natural taste.
Unlike seafood, scorpions do not contain a fragrant or fishy aroma.
So, aromatics are essential in creating a depth of flavor.
Despite their appearance, scorpions do not contain any sharp bits that will make chewing uncomfortable.
Besides, they also do not require any special eating techniques like lobsters.
If they’re small enough, you can eat them whole, but you can also pull apart sections of the body when eating a larger one.
If you’re eating them from a skewer, you can sprinkle additional seasonings to further customize their taste.
How to Cook Scorpion?
Cooking scorpions is effortless, fun, and similar to a science experiment.
So, here’s everything on how to move the knives, tongs, and pantry items to create a delectable dish every time you catch a scorpion.
- Denature the venom: This is the first and most essential step in cooking scorpions, especially if you plan to have them raw. You can use a sharp object to cut off the stinger at the end of its tail.
If you cook the scorpions, you can leave the stinger intact as heat effectively denatures the venom.
- Preserve their crispiness with the right cooking methods: As discussed above, scorpions have very little meaty substance, so boiling or steaming them will only result in soft and unpalatable meat.
On the contrary, grilling, frying, and roasting will help develop a satisfying and crispy texture.
- Use a generous amount of aromatics and seasonings: Though scorpions taste similar to seafood, they aren’t as flavorful. So, blending spices and aromatic ingredients like butter, garlic, olive oil, and herbs adds a new dimension to its taste profile.
Insects, bugs, and arachnids are prone to parasite infection, so it is always recommended that you never eat them raw.
However, if you still prefer to consume them raw, remove their stingers and ensure you clean and gut them well.
Scorpions may be dangerous predators, but they’re different when you place them on the palate.
They exhibit a satisfying crispy texture and remind us of beef and seafood.
So, if you ever find scorpions while visiting the streets of Beijing or similar markets, don’t skip the opportunity to try one.
And if you can find them around your home, try getting a few and cooking them in different methods; you’ll be impressed by how well they retain the flavors of seasonings.