Captain Ahab: The Man Who Brought Us Lizard Salad

Yesterday provided a chance encounter with a local character which has forever changed our culinary lives. WE HAVE EATEN LIZARD, SOME KIND OF IGUANA. Specifically, this kind of iguana, although it might have been a blue-colored one since those are apparently bigger and tastier. There are so many things I want to say about this experience, it’s all just a jumble in my mind right now… I think I’ll tackle the explanation chronologically.
So yesterday, Nam and I were in front of our house taking photos. I set up a tripod in front of the pond and we started taking a long series of shots in the hot sun. Along came Captain Ahab, carrying his mini-harpoon gun:
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“Do you want to try it out?” OH HELL YES PLEASE!
I tested out his fine contraption on a bunch of reeds floating in the pond, and maimed them quite handily. The trigger pull was about 20 lbs. and activated the release of the thick rubber bands (not tubes) attached to either sides of the receiver, acting much like a Hawaiian sling.
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He assured us this longarm was also effective for home defense. I belive his actual words were, “you can also use this to shoot burglars!” Check out the awesomely hand-ground and nastily-barbed mini-harpoon:
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You could probably do a lot more than shoot your eye out with this gun; the Captain said he’d bought it off a student 30 years ago and had speared too many fish with it to count over the years. (note: The reason I deemed this fine fellow Ahab is that he claimed to have brought in a 300 kilogram fish with this rig once. I called bullshit, first off because the harpoon was only attached with what looked like around 20 lb. test. Also,
I firmly believe anyone harpooning a 300 kg. fish with this rig would end up just like the original Captain Ahab – it’s just not possible to land. Later, I found out this may have been a misunderstanding – he may have meant 300 kgs. of fish, not a 300 kg. fish. Since the time period wasn’t specified, this sounds totally feasible. Sorry for doubting you, Captain, and sorry for the undeserved moniker) Unfortunately, he did not know where I could find one for myself. Here’s a shot of the loaded projectile (gun uncocked).
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And here is where we come to lizard salad (iguana salad?). (Well not really salad. It’s about as salad-ish as a fruit salad, in that it’s not, really… ah screw it, you’ll see.) A few weeks ago some friends told me that it’s prime iguana hunting season right now and I was really jazzed about rounding up some friends and going… They hypnotize the hapless beasts with special whistling sounds, then shoot them out of the trees with slingshots made from inner tubes. Nam also wanted me to go, but was worried about karmic implications during this period just before the baby is born, so I refrained from going. For some reason, Nam thought I merely wanted to eat the iguanas (where as for me, the hunt is the only reason I would even consider eating a lizard to begin with), so she asked Captain Ahab, who certainly appeared to be able to live off the land, if he could round up some for me.
This is how we started the lizard negotiations. He asked how many she wanted, she said one or two. He said that wasn’t enough and said, “how about ten?” Nam countered with five, and we were all set. He promised to catch some later that night and asked if we knew how to prepare them. He was worried that we didn’t know how to slowly roast and skin them, and then mix various herbs and fruits together to make it all very tasty, and rightly so – we were totally like lizard virgins, man. So it ended up that he had his wife cook up the lizards he caught for us and brought us a bag of LIZARD SALAD for lunch today. Behold:
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THE VERDICT: The lizard meat was smoky from being slowly grilled, presumably over charcoal. Just looking at the photo, it looks like many other variations of Thai country “salad,” most of which are based on local veggies or fruits such as eggplant, bamboo shoots, tamarind, papaya or mango, or are fish-based. This one was definitely lizard though, because I picked a spiny part out of my mouth. The closest flavor I can compare iguana flesh to is canned tuna – it had the same kind of consistency when mashed up, and didn’t taste too strongly of anything, perhaps just hinting at fish.
An added bonus was the ant queen salad Ahab’s wife also prepared for us:
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Today was a good day. I learned things about this culture that even Thai people don’t know about. I KNOW WHAT IGUANA TASTES LIKE, BITCHES!
That is all.

5 thoughts on “Captain Ahab: The Man Who Brought Us Lizard Salad”

  1. Cool harpoon gun. you could shoot your eyes and your brother’s eye out at the same time.
    About lizard salad: good for you. This is surely something your father would like to boast about.
    And hey, what is Queen Ant Salad, and is it indeed made from ants??? How many colonies do you have to harvest in order to get so many queen ants?
    Very thought provoking post. And I

  2. If you want one of those, you can buy a regular spear gun. I bet that’s what Ahab’s rubber band gun is based off of.
    You get props for the ant salad – that definitely qualifies as a unique region-specific ethnic food.
    The lizard salad is interesting, but alas, there are no shots of you eating a lizard head or tail or anything that you can really tell it is a lizard. Kind of like how you can’t tell what kind of meat is in a Tijuana taco (probably carne de perro or rata).
    With that in mind, I have a request: I want a series shot of someone (preferably you) eating frogs! The frogs should not be made indistinguishable from other meats by shredding, rather it should be recognizable as a ranid.

  3. > what is Queen Ant Salad
    That’s what it’s called in Thai, however, I think this must be a species of termite or something since they can’t all be queens, right? I hope.
    > there are no shots of you eating a lizard head…
    Next time I’ll hunt for my own, if there is a next time.
    The frog photos were taken when we went to Pattaya a few weeks ago… Will post soon.

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