Manataka™ American Indian Council


 
 

Edible Insects

Bug bite: This grasshopper, called inago and marinated in a soy-sugar sauce, is served as an appetizer in a Tokyo restaurant. (Image via Science News.com)

Edible Insects List

 

These are but a few examples of the thousands of edible insects.  (This is a work-in-progress. Please feel free to Add to our Edible Insects List.

Some insects are edible. In fact, most insects are edible, but there are a few species that are especially palatable, nutritious, and easily obtainable. I will concentrate on these.  

Many species of insects are lower in fat, higher in protein, and have a better feed to meat ratio than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. 

Insects are tasty. Really! Even if you are too squeamish to have them as a main dish, you can make insect flour and add it to bread and other dishes for an added protein boost. 

Insects are easy to raise. There is no manure forking. No hay bale lifting. No veterinary bills. You can raise them in an apartment without getting complaints.  

Insects are beautiful. I think that all insects are beautiful, but most people I know will marvel at the iridescence of a butterfly, but shudder at the striping of a mealworm. 

Most people do not mind butchering insects. The butchery of insects is very simple compared with that of cattle or poultry, and nowhere near as gory.  

Raising insects is environmentally friendly. They require minimal space per pound of protein produced, have a better feed to meat ratio than any other animal you can raise, and are very low on the food chain. They are healthy, tasty, and have been utilized for the entire history of mankind (after all, it is easier to catch a grub than a mammoth).

ANTS

Ant: there are several varieties of ants that are eaten: Carpenter ants, leaf-cutter ants, honeypot ants, and even lemon ants.

 

Flying Ant: Also known as Sompopos, the flying queens are collected in Guatemala and roasted on a comal with salt and lime juice. They are said to taste something like buttery pork rinds. Because of their territorial nature, flying ant queens are sometimes pitted against each other, cock-fight style.

image via http://showmercymission.blogspot.com/2011/03/united-methodist-humble-school.html

 

Honeypot ants have abdomens swollen with a nectar-like substance, which is used to feed other ants, sort of like a “living larder.” An excellent “bush food,” they are dug up from the ground and eaten raw by  aboriginal peoples in Australia.

 

Leafcutter ants, also known as Hormigas Culonas in Spanish (which means big-butted ant) are eaten mainly in South America. They are  said to taste like a cross between bacon and pistachio, and are usually eaten toasted. In Colombia, they are sold like popcorn at movie theaters. Image via http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2013/05/11/swarming-texas-leaf-cutter-ants/

 

Lemon ants are found in the Amazon jungle and are said to taste like just that: lemons. 

 

FLIES

Fly pupae: the fatty acid pattern of house fly pupae (Musca domestica L.) has been found to be similar to that of some fish oils. Shaped like small red pills, the “flavor is rich with a hint of iron, sort of like blood pudding,” says David Gracer of Small Stock Foods.

Image via  http://www.smallstockfoods.com

 

Midge fly: in East Africa, these are pressed into solid blocks and cooked into Kunga Cake.  

 

Zaza-mushi: “Zaza-mushizaza, the sound of rushing river water, and mushi, insect — are the larvae of aquatic caddis flies.” – Man Eating Bugs. Zaza-mushi are boiled then sauteed in soy and sugar in Japan. Image via http://travel.usnews.com/gallery/Countries_That_Eat_Bugs/Japan_795/

 

 

FLYING INSECTS

Bee: Bee larvae, especially, are prized in many cultures as tasty morsels. Think about it, all they eat is royal jelly, pollen, and honey!The larvae, when sauteed in butter, taste much like mushroomy bacon. Adult bees may also be eaten, often roasted (roast bee!) and then ground into a nutritious flour. In China, ground bees are used as a remedy for a sore throat.

 

Cicada: Periodical cicadas, primarily found in the Eastern US,  live underground for 17 years before emerging and molting into adults. Just after they molt, they have soft, juicy bodies, and are said to be very tender and delicious. Different species of cicada are also eaten in many Asian countries, such as Japan and Thailand.  Image via http://news.huntingboots.com/cicada-recipes-feast-on-the-killer-invasion/

 

Cricket: eaten fried, sauteed, boiled, and roasted, these are amongst the most common insects eaten. Eaten in Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia.

 

Dragonfly: eaten in Indonesia and China. Can be eaten in adult or larval form. In Indonesia, these are caught by dipping a reed in sticky palm sap and waving it through the air. Often eaten boiled or fried.

 

Grasshopper: in Mexico, these are eaten roasted with chile and lime, and are known as chapulines. High in protein and calcium.

 

June bug: June bugs (Phyllophaga) can be eaten at both the larval and adult stage. Native Americans roasted them over coals and ate them like popcorn.

 

Locust: the locust is one of the few insects condoned by the bible. Leviticus 11:22: Even these of them ye may eat: the locust after its kind, and the bald locust after its kind, and the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind.

 

Nsenene: This tasty grasshopper is a Ugandan delicacy. Usually prepared fried. David Gracer suggests that they taste like “a cross between chicken, shrimp, and croutons.”  Image via http://www.shout-africa.com/news/uganda-grasshopper-mania-in-uganda/

 

Wasp: Wasps are eaten in both adult and larval stages. Boiled, sauteed, roasted and fried, they taste somewhat buttery and earthy. Emperor Hirohito of Japan favored boiled wasps with rice.

 

GRUBS

Sago grubs: the larvae of the Palm Weevil.  Sago Delight, or fried Sago grubs,  is a specialty in Malaysia and Indonesia. In Borneo  and  Papua New Guinea, they are often cooked in Sago flour, and wrapped in a Sago leaf like a tamale. They are said to taste somewhat like bacon, and are an essential source of fat.

 

Wichetty grub: Eaten by Aborigines in Australia, often roasted in coals or over a fire, wichetty grubs are high in protein and fat. According to Peter Menzel in Man Eating Bugs, “Witchetty grub tastes like nut-flavored scrambled eggs and mild mozzarella, wrapped in a phyllo dough pastry.”

 

SPIDERS

Scorpion: Often found skewered and fried in Thailand and China. Scorpions tend to have a flavor like soft-shell crab.

 

Tarantula: Primarily popular as a food in Cambodia, tarantulas are high in protein, and are believed to help boost virility. They taste somewhat like an earthy crab. Image via http://koreanistapaula.blogspot.com/2012/03/ate-me-tarantula.html

 

WORMS

Agave worm: Also known as the maguey worm, these larvae of either the Hypopta agavis moth or the Aegiale hesperiaris are sometimes included in tequila bottles as proof of authenticity and alcohol content (tequila must be of high enough proof to preserve the worm). In Mexico, they are also eaten as part of a meal, and are highly nutritious.

 

Bamboo  worm: Often eaten fried in Thailand, they are the larvae of the Grass Moth, and eat their way through bamboo before metamorphosing.

 

Earthworm: known to be high in protein and iron, eaten by various peoples such as the native Yekuana of Venezuela. news.bbc.co.uk; click for cool video on earthworm restaurant in Croatia.

 

Hornworm:  David George Gordon, author of The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook, says that Tomato Hornworms can be fried up much the same as the fruit of the plant on which they feed. They taste a bit like green tomatoes, shrimp, and crab.

 

Mopane worm: largely eaten in Southern Africa, during their season, mopane worms can fetch a higher market price than beef. When dried, they are said to taste like  an earthy jerky.

 

Mealworm: Mealworms are found wherever there is, well, meal! They are the larva of the mealworm beetle. They are often prepared boiled, sauteed, roasted, or fried, and taste like a nutty shrimp. Image via http://www.wildmanfoods.org/grubs/mealworm

 

Silk worm: A popular dish in Korea, these are known as Bon Daegi, and are an edible byproduct of the silk-harvesting process. Image via TLC.com)

 

Waxworm: The larvae of the wax moth, in the wild wax worms are a parasite of bee hives. In captivity, they are fed on a diet of bran and honey. Roasted or sauteed, they taste like a cross between a pine nut and an enoki mushroom, and are high in essential fatty acids. (Image via Songbirdgarden.com)

 

OTHERS

Centipede: Most often found as a street food in China.

 

Cockroach: Yes, you can eat cockroaches! Just not the ones you find around your house. Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches can actually be very clean and tasty insects, especially if they are fed on fresh fruits and vegetables. They can be eaten toasted, fried, sauteed, or boiled. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have a taste and texture like greasy chicken. 

 

Dung Beetle: despite the strange-sounding name, dung beetles, often eaten fried, are quite tasty.

 

Jumiles: also known as stink bugs. High in B vitamins, these are said to taste either bitter or like cinnamon, and may have tranquilizing and analgesic properties. Apparently, they can survive the cooking process, and thus are often eaten alive. The yearly Jumile Festival involves the eating of thousands of jumiles, and the crowning of a Jumile Queen.  Image via  http://zoom50.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/jumiles-for-the-brave-at-heart/

 

Louse: ‘“I have seen the Cheyennes, Snakes, Utes, etc., eat vermin off each other by the fistful,” wrote the nineteenth-century chronicler Father Pierre-Jean de Smet. “Often great chiefs would pull off their shirts in my presence without ceremony, and while they chatted, would amuse themselves with carrying on this branch of the chase in the seams. As fast as they dislodged the game, they crunched it with as much relish as more civilized mouths crack almonds and hazel-nuts or the claws of crabs and crayfishes.” — excerpt from The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon.

 

Pill-bug: AKA sowbugs, roly-polies, woodlice, these are actually terrestrial crustaceans, closely related to lobsters, crab and shrimp. When boiled, they are said to turn red.

 

Termite: Termites are often eaten raw straight out of the mound in places like Kenya.

 

Walking Stick: Eaten in Asia and Papua New Guinea, Walking Sticks taste somewhat leafy. Their legs can be used as fish hooks, says Aaron Dossey of All Things BugsImage via http://theanimals.pics/stick-bug-picture/3/stick-insect-giant-stick-insect-facts-phasmida-stick-insect-stick/

 

Water Bug: AKA Toebiter, the giant water bug is popular in Thai cuisine, both consumed whole (steamed or fried), and as an extract in sauces. Raw, the bugs have a scent like a green apple. Steamed, their flesh (plentiful enough to make small filets), tastes like a briny, perfumy banana/melon, with the consistency of fish. 

 

 



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