Back in the day when I was a student, a Shangaan classmate brought a packet of dried mopane worms from home after the school holidays. She sent it to the class for everyone to have a look and taste….
If my memory serves me well, about one or two of my classmates had the courage to taste the dry worms. A few years later I visited the same classmate in Joburg, she and her friend prepared pap and a mopane worm relish for me. I was freaked out throughout the entire cooking process. Come on now, I’m Xhosa and in my culture, we don’t eat mopane worms. Anyways, they finished cooking and dished up. I was running late for a flight to Cape Town but what they did, they packed the food in a container for me.
When I got to Cape Town I showed my sisters and a friend the padkos. Haha! You should have seen their faces. The friend tasted and she actually enjoyed the meal, that’s only when I developed the courage to try the dish.
You find them available from the street vendors on the side of the road and from some shops in Joburg and Mpumalanga. I decided to buy a few packets. After buying the stuff I didn’t know how to cook it. However, I followed instructions from a few friends to make up my own version of a mopane worm dish.
Some people get excited when you show them a packet of Mopane Worms. For an example, I showed them to my neighbours, a couple from DRC and they were thrilled they ended up asking for at least one packet. Apparently, the mopane worms are a delicacy in their country, I listened to their stories as they eagerly illustrated how they would pick them from a tree, dunk them into boiling hot water then eat them. They prepared the “sheni” as they call the mopane worms with some dried fish and peanut butter.
The explorer in me needed to come up with a way to prepare them so that I can enjoy them and then decided on a salad dish. The mopane worms are different to what I’m used to but you get used to them. Besides they are one of our indigenous ingredients, not only that they are also good for you. They are nutritious, high in protein, also contain iron, calcium and phosphorus. Ok, that’s my way of preparing mopane worms, how do you prepare them?
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.
Add a bit of bicarbonate of soda while cooking the worms, it yields to softer results.