Talk about bugs and everyone will be disgusted but when it comes to Moreton Bay Bugs, the terrific taste will let you forget about the name!
Moreton Bay Bugs are a little smaller than crayfish in terms of size. Though the two crustaceans have obvious differences when it comes to size and appearance, some people still have a hard time distinguishing a Moreton Bay Bug from the ordinary Crayfish. Well, that may be true throughout the rest of the world, but people from Moreton Bay, Queensland only know it by its original name – the Moreton Bay Bugs. Aside from this name, they are also known in internationally as Flat Head Lobsters or Slipper Lobsters. And just like any other crustaceans from the clear waters of Australia, these Moreton Bay Bugs will give you an amazing taste you won’t forget.
Moreton Bay Bugs are crustaceans with a distinct red-brown carapace or shell. With its very short tail and five pairs of legs, these shelled wonders can bury themselves in sand during the day. And as a perfectly programmed nocturnal, they have been known to be more active during the night. They have a flat head, which is one thing that people should always look for in determining the specific species of the Morton Bay Bug.
Two varieties of Moreton Bay bugs exist:
Balmain Bugs and the traditional Moreton Bay Bugs. In terms of the position of the eyes, Moreton Bay Bugs have them positioned at the edge of their flat heads, while Balmain Bugs have eyes that are placed almost in the middle of their heads. Balmain Bugs also have several spots on their legs and have a tail fan that is a distinct yellow colour. Moreton Bay Bugs, on the other hand, lack these special structures but are more well-known in international cuisine compared to their coloured counterparts. Balmain Bugs also have a wider body that makes them different from Moreton Bay bugs. Similar species are also found in Asian countries like Japan and the Philippines where they are being used as a common part of their traditional dishes. Although they are commonly available in West Australia anytime of the year, the peak season occurs between the months of January and February.
Moreton Bay Bugs: A perfect kind of bug
Unlike any other crustaceans, the edible meat of Moreton Bay bugs can only found on their tail part. That is why Moreton Bay Bugs from Australia and several parts of Asia are often being imported as frozen meat. Their meat can usually last for two, three months if kept frozen, or just three days if stored in the refrigerator. Although the edible are of Moreton Bay Bugs is only 30% of its total mass, and mainly concentrated on its tail, they compensate by bringing a strong and distinct flavour to the table which make them a perfect ingredient to add to any salad or barbecue. Its meat is translucent when harvested raw, but when cooked it will present itself as a white meat that is prized for its firm texture. Just like any ordinary lobster or crayfish, Moreton Bay Bugs usually change their colours to red-orange when cooked.
Choosing the Best Moreton Bay Bugs
Moreton Bay Bugs are commonly available in the seafood market either raw or cooked. It is best to go for ones that have not been frozen, so you can enjoy the freshness of the meat. In order for you to choose the best options out there, you need to use your senses in verifying its freshness. The carapace or the shell should be firm and intact. Any suspicious discolouration, especially if you found it hidden on their leg joints, will not make that Moreton Bay Bug a good choice. And like what people normally do with other crustaceans, you need to use your sense of smell so you can check if the sweet sea smell is still evident or not. The smell of Moreton Bay Bugs will help you predict their degree of freshness as the ones that have been out in the air for a longer time will have a distinct foul smell. Always be thorough in choosing the best Moreton Bay Bugs as the quality can greatly affect the standard of the whole meal.
With every 100 grams of raw meat from fresh Moreton bay bugs, one can get a lot of nutritional value that is very good for a person’s heart. Although they contain small percentages of cholesterol, just like any other delectable crustaceans, Moreton Bay Bugs provide a balance by being a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6. These nutrients are known to protect people from several cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease.
Preparation and Cooking
Moreton Bay Bug tails can be a perfect part of everyone’s main course. They can also make a great meal with fresh lemon and can be prepared to create a mouth-watering salad or cooked on the barbecue. For grilling purposes, it is suggested that you cut the Moreton Bay Bug tail lengthwise to reveal its transparent flesh and cook it as it is. They are also perfect as deep-fried, poached or steamed. If you want to bring out the best taste, you can also try to prepare famous recipes like the Canadian Moreton Bay Bug which is prepared by broiling buttered bugs for quite some time and serving it hot with bread. You can also try to bake them by melting butter and then combining with freshly chopped garlic and parsley. After tossing it with bugs that are cut lengthwise, you can bake it and enjoy a delectable meal after ten to fifteen minutes.
Moreton Bay Bugs are not just an everyday bug you’re going to find in the bush. These amazing sea creatures are going to give you an eating experience that is second to none. So make sure you come down to Claringbold’s in the Prahran Market to pick up some today. You are bound to be impressed!