Bugs are a slipper lobster. For foodies, the most important are the Balmain bugs found from the QLD and NSW border around to WA and most commonly produced out of NSW. If you live in Queensland, the Moreton Bay bugs are tops. Incidentally, Moreton Bay bugs range from Queensland to WA.
These two main types of bugs are separated by the location of their eyes. Moreton Bay bugs have their eyes located near the edge of the head at the margin of the carapace, and is said to be the best tasting. Balmain bugs have their eyes set towards the middle of the head and are also a little thicker in the body than the Moreton Bay bug.
If you’re lucky enough to catch one of these, here’s how to prepare your bug for cooking. Next month we’ll ‘value add’ some ingredients to the delectable bugs to cook a favourite Asian bug recipe.
A bug, belly-down, with a fleshing knife.
Use a sharp knife. Cut the belly membrane between the head and tail – just the exo-membrane, not the flesh. Cut the exo-membrane along where the bug head meets the tail (body). I use a short-bladed Puma SGB pointed blade knife, which is ideal for the small shallow incision.
Grip the bug with two hands as shown. Lever the head and tail in opposing directions to detach the head. Do this by pulling and rotating in a direction that pulls your thumbs apart and pushes your fingers together, in order to crack the corner of the join between the head and tail.
Continue to open up the separation. Bend it open about half way and crack the other side now. Do the same rotation as before to crack the other corner of join between the head and tail.
Run your finger under the shell of the bug head to ensure that you’re going to detach all of the bug tail meat. Hook your finger around the top of the meat at the front of the head and pull the meat backwards towards the tail with your bent finger.
Now with the finger that is inside the bug's head doing most of the work, you can pull the tail away from the head. The tail meat will still have the shell attached.
Take the carapace (upper shell) in your hand. Squeeze it to crack. This makes the belly shell easier to peel away.
Peel the outer tail shell away from the softer belly shell. Free up the bug meat.
With the shell peeled away from the meat, the Moreton Bay bug tail meat is ready for a delicious recipe. You can also eat it as it is.Reads: 2064