Today's post is about more South Thai 'weird stuff'.
I found quite a few of these "Maeng da talay" at Ao Nang market today.
In Thai language, 'talay' means 'sea' or 'ocean' and "Maeng da" means 'pimp'.
I guess that makes it the 'pimp of the ocean' as it scuttles around the shallow sandy seabeds of Southeast Asia.
The only issue here is that they don't look like horseshoes, nor do they look like crabs.
hey're basically prehistoric sea creatures that look like the love child of an angry armadillo and Sigourney Weaver's "Alien"
These critters have few edible parts, but lots of horny, ridged shell and hard-to-crack carapace, so the 'good stuff' actually lies inside. It looks like eggplant caviar with streaks of mustard. Not what you'd expect at all.
The mouth-feel is a bit like a cross between caviar and sago, with not much taste of its own.
It adds an exotic protein and a different texture to your seafood repertoire, rather than a defined flavour.
It's generally pretty good in salads, and the Japanese use it extensively too.
There are two coastal species suited to the menu……..but you'd better be careful not to eat the similar looking MANGROVE horseshoe crab which can cause reactions or poisoning.
These two are safe: Tachypleus gigas and Tachypleus tridentatus
Before eating these crabs, the intestine, stomach and excrement must be removed (particularly the excrement!) or it is rumoured you can get a wee bit high'
This doesn't mean it's a wicked way to get a buzz, alongside 'cane toad licking' and distilling moonshine. It means "can cause irritation and dizziness", so you're better off with a bottle of vodka instead of a table full of uncleaned maeng da if you want to be the life of the party.)
Personally I think that this could be through eating the wrong species, as a Chinese study states:
"it has been discovered that the major cause of the poisoning on eating Horseshoe crab in south region along the seacoast of China was taking tetrodotoxin from Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda by mistake; the symptoms of some others from eating Horseshoe crab were the result of allergic reactions from eating Tachypleus tridentatuscause, similar to the reactions from eating shrimp or crab, and which could be cured with chlorpheniramine. The effective prevention measures are not eating Horseshoe crab, especially the young ones. The size of young Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda is similar to the size of the nonpoisonous Tachypleus tridentatuscause. It is very easy to be confused and easy to eat by mistake". http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11321949
Anyway, just scoop out the eggs like this if you're preparing your own.
At the markets they normally have experienced people selling their daily catch, so picking it up from a fisherman or vendor is a lotless drama than catching it yourself and trying to ID the results.
At the markets, they barbecue the crabs whole, scoop out the 'eggs' and prepare them into Thai 'yum' salad, or bag up the edible part of give you some sauces. Here's a yum salad being prepared for me. Maeng da talay is also good in a rich creamy coconut curry, or for using in rice paper salad wraps.
Next the green mango julienne s added.
Green mango is really refreshing, with a strong acidic but fruity tang. It's fantastic with this Maeng da talay, but also perfect with crispy fried catfish salad.
These briny little armoured critters are also used in medical research.
Extracts are used for screening vaccines, detecting endotoxins, and studies into viral immunity.
They have blue blood (not unlike myself?), and some believe that this unusual blood has beneficial or curative properties.
If you believe that, you;d probably be keen to try this Vietnamese fish with blue bones too.
It almost gave me whiplash when I went for a second rather surprised look.
How do they eat horseshoe crab in your part of the world?
We'd love to hear from you about your favourite recipe or your personal horseshoe crab experience.