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May. 16, 2013

Three Insect Recipes to Help the Arthropods Go Down

by Julie Leibach

Click to enlarge images
Forget protein bars. For a nutritious snack, consider popping a few grasshoppers. Or a handful of ants, perhaps?
 
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While the thought of chowing on arthropods might make your skin crawl, consider this: A report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says that insects have huge potential for improving the world's food security.
 
Of course, with any enticing meal, the secret's in the sauce. To help the six legs, antennaes, or wings go down, try the following three recipes, courtesy of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, Revised: 40 Ways to Cook Crickets, Grasshoppers, Ants, Water Bugs, Spiders, Centipedes, and Their Kin, by David George Gordon (Ten Speed Press, 2013).
 
Three Bee Salad
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 cup (about 40) frozen adult bees
1/2 cup (about 60) frozen bee pupae
1/2 cup (about 60) frozen bee larvae
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ounce bee pollen granules
Lettuce for serving
Nasturtium petals or other edible flowers for serving
 
1.  Bring two quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the adult honeybees and return to boil for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bees from the water. Pat dry with paper towels and allow to cool.
2.  To the same water, add the honeybee pupae. Repeat the procedure for cooking the adult bees (but watch how you pat these little guys with the paper towels!), also allowing the pupae to cool.
3.  Repeat the same process with the honeybee larvae.
4.  In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked adult bees, followed by the pupae, then the larvae.
5.  Immediately before serving, add the bee pollen granules, stirring the mixture 
to ensure that the granules are evenly 
distributed.
6.  Serve on a bed of lettuce, decorated with the nasturtium petals, a bee-utiful touch for this bee-atific dish.
 
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Fried Green Tomato Hornworms
Yield: 8 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
32 tomato hornworms
4 medium green tomatoes, sliced into
sixteen 1/4-inch rounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
White cornmeal
16 to 20 small basil leaves
 
1.  In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the hornworms and fry lightly for about 4 minutes, taking care not to rupture the cuticles of each insect under high heat. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2.  Season the tomato rounds with salt and pepper to taste, then coat with cornmeal on both sides.
3.  In another large skillet or wok, heat the remaining oil and fry the tomatoes until lightly browned on both sides.
4.  Top each tomato round with 2 fried tomato hornworms.
5.  Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.
 
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White Chocolate and 
Wax Worm Cookies
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
12/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups white chocolate chunks or morsels
3/4 cup (about 375) frozen wax worms, thawed
 
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown and granulated sugars, and vanilla extract until creamy.
3.  Stir the egg into the butter mixture, then gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the white chocolate chunks and half of the wax worms, reserving the rest for garnishing the cookies.
4.  Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonful onto nonstick baking sheets.
5.  Gently press 2 or 3 of the remaining wax worms into the top of each cookie.
6.  Bake until the edges of each cookie are lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes.
7.  Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for 
2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
 
Bonus Arachnid Recipe
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Deep-Fried Tarantula Spider
Yield: 4 servings
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 frozen adult Texas brown, Chilean rose, or similar-sized tarantulas, thawed
1 cup tempura batter (page 84)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
 
1.  In a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 350°F.
2.  With a sharp knife, sever and discard the abdomens from the two tarantulas. Singe off any of the spider’s body hairs with a crème brûlée torch or butane cigarette lighter.
3.  Dip each spider into the tempura batter to thoroughly coat. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to make sure each spider is spread-eagled (so to speak) and not clumped together before dropping it into the hot oil.
4.  Deep-fry the spiders, one at a time, until the batter is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove each spider from the oil and place it on paper towels to drain.
5.  Use a sharp knife to cut each spider in two lengthwise. Sprinkle with the paprika and serve. Encourage your guests to try the legs first and, if still hungry, to nibble on the meat-filled mesothorax, avoiding the spider’s paired fangs, which are tucked away in the head region.
 
*This post was updated on May 17, 2013 to reflect the fact that spiders such as tarantulas are indeed not insects. They are arachnids, belonging to the same phylum as insects, Arthropoda. We added a third insect recipe. 
 
Reprinted with permission from The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook, revised by David George Gordon (Ten Speed Press, 2013). Photo Credit: Chugrad McAndrews.
 
Related Science Friday Links
Take a tour of insect dishes served 'round the world: Don't Forget to Eat Your Creepy Crawlies!
About Julie Leibach

Julie is the managing editor of ScienceFriday.com. She is a huge fan of sleep and chocolate. Follow her @julieleibach.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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