In our continuation of bringing you “Street Food” from the continent of Africa, we thought we would travel to Southern Africa. A very popular delicacy in Southern Africa is the Mopane Worm.
Most people who enjoy Mopane worms obviously do not get certificates when they eat a solitary grub. Normally, you’ll see huge bags of dried and/or smoked Mopane worms in local markets throughout rural Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. They’re greyish looking when dried (after their green guts have been squeezed out) and at first glance you might think they’re a bean of some kind.
Mopane worms get their English name from hanging out on Mopane trees which are prevalent in Southern Africa. And they are not worms, but caterpillars, the larvae of the Emperor Moth. The best time to harvest them is when they are at maximum plumpness, late in their larval stage and before they bury themselves in order to re-appear as an Emperor moth. The Mopane worms like the Mopane tree, but they also feed off mango trees and other bushes. They are a seasonal delicacy, but you can also buy cans of Mopane worms soaked in brine in some local supermarkets. Mopane (sometimes spelled Mopani) worms are called phane in Botswana, mashonja in Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa, and omangungu in Namibia. Nutritionally they pack a punch consisting of 60% protein along with good amounts of iron and calcium. Since they require little input in the way of resources, it has become a valuable and profitable source of food and income. In South Africa it is a multi-million industry.
Here is a recipe you might enjoy. Enjoy!
Mopane Worm Salad Recipe
15ml (1tbsp) olive oil
coarse black pepper
1 serano chilli, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
For the Salad
1 baby cos lettuce
cocktail tomatoes, halved
feta cheese, crumbled
onion rings, optional
Soak the Mopane Worms in water until they are soft ~ I soaked them in boiling water to speed up the process.
After soaking, cook them in boiling water.
In a saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion, garlic.
Add the cooked mopane worms and the rest of the ingredients.
Salad: mix the mopane worms with the salad ingredients.
Serve with a dressing.