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Entomophagy In The Mainstream

Contents 1 5 7 9 11 13 15 17

Insects As Human Food by William F. Lyon Recipes Fried Tarantula Scorpion Soup Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies Grasshopper Fritters Stick Insect a la Rouge Mint Chocolate Covered Ants

Insects as Human Food William F. Lyon Entomophagy (the eating of insects) has yet to become a day–to–day activity for most people in the United States and Europe in spite of the superior nutritional content of edible insects compared to other animals. Other cultures around the world have made insects a main ingredient in their diets, providing an excellent source of protein. Insects are an inexpensive substitute for meat in many developing countries. In Mexico, grasshoppers and other edible insects are sold by the pound in village markets and are fried before being eaten. Many are sold in cans as fried grasshoppers, chocolate covered ants, etc. Tortillas are served with red and white agave worms in many Mexico city restaurants. Columbian citizens enjoy eating a variety of insects such as termites, palm grubs and ants. Ants are ground up and used as a spread on breads. Popular insects eaten in the Phillippines are June beetles, grasshoppers, ants, mole crickets, water beetles, katydids, locusts and dragonfly larvae. They can be fried, broiled or sauteed with vegetables. In parts of Africa, ants, termites, beetle grubs, caterpillars and grasshoppers are eaten. Some insects such as termites are eaten raw soon after catching, while others are baked or fried before eating. The giant waterbug roasted and eaten whole is a favorite food in Asia. It is easily collected around lights at night around bodies of water. Sago grubs are popular for cooks in Papua New Guinea, most often boiled or roasted over an open fire. Other edible insects eaten in this country include larvae of moths, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, adult grasshoppers, cicadas, stick insects, moths and crickets. In the United States, some restaurants (Washington, DC ) are incorporating insects into their recipe books and menus. On the menu are interesting dishes such as stir-fried mealworms and caterpillar crunch (a combination of trail mix


and fried caterpillars). Insects can be substituted for everyday recipe ingredients. Tom Turpin, Professor of Entomology at Purdue University enjoys “chocolate chirpy chips” which is a variation of chocolate chip cookies. He uses the chocolate chip cookie recipe but adds roasted crickets to the cookie dough before baking. The cricket’s wings and legs are removed before roasting. Most American insect recipes are based on limited types of insects easily purchased from supply companies, pet stores or bait shops. Ants, crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms are the most common insects used for cooking. Over 1,000 insect species are eaten by humans world wide. Not all insects are edible. Some insects are toxic and may create allergy problems. Use only species mentioned in this Entomology fact sheet. Along with nutrition comes the added benefit of good taste. Doug Whitman, Entomologist at Illinois State University, enjoys eating raw yellowjacket larvae which have a sweet, nutty flavor. Gene R. DeFoliart, retired Entomologist at the University of Wisconsin, prefers the greater wax moth larvae (deep-fried will melt in your mouth, tasting like bacon) and crickets deep-fried have a crunchy, tangy flavor. He feels the honey bee has a good chance of becoming an American bug food. A pound of honey bees is about 3,500 bees. They can be put in an oven at low heat for eight hours and then used in flour for cookies. Some feel insect popcorn, using crickets, would be a new theater treat. Most insects are cheap, tasty and a good natural protein source requiring less land and feed than raising cows or pigs. Many insects are far cleaner than other creatures. For example, grasshoppers and crickets eat fresh, clean, green plants whereas crabs, lobsters and catfish eat any kind of foul, decomposing material as a scavenger (bottom water feeder). By weight, termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars, weevils, house flies and spiders are better sources of protein than beef, chicken, pork or lamb according to the Entomological Society of America. Also, insects are low in cholesterol and low in fat.

If Americans could tolerate more insects in what they eat, farmers could significantly reduce the amount of pesticides applied each year. It is better to eat more insects and less pesticide residue. If the US Food and Drug Administration would relax the limit for insects and their parts (double the allowance) in food crops, US farmers could significantly apply less pesticide each year. Fifty years ago, it was common for an apple to have worms inside, bean pods with beetle bites and cabbage with worm eaten leaves. Most Americans don’t realize that they are probably already eating a pound or two of insects each year. One cannot see them, since they have been ground up into tiny pieces in such items as strawberry jams, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, frozen chopped broccoli, etc. Actually, these insect parts make some food products more nutritious. An issue of the Food Insects Newsletter reports that 80 percent of the world’s population eats insects intentionally and 100 percent eat them unintentionally.


Recipes In the following pages you will find recipes for a variety of insects and arachnids. These recipes have been hand-picked and range from appetizers to desserts.


Recipes Include: Fried Tarantuala Scorpion Soup Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies Grasshopper Fritters Stick Insect a la Rouge Mint Chocolate Covered Ants

Fried Tarantula


This dish originates in Cambodia where it is extremely popular and eaten daily by most people. It costs about 8 cents. The legs of the tarantula have very little meat, while the rest contains a delicate white meat that is related to crab meat. The abdomen of the spider contains waste, organs and sometimes eggs. This part is considered a delicacy to some and is avoided by others.

Ingredients 1 tarantula


• To prepare, kill the tarantula by steaming it alive. This helps to keep it fresh and crispy. • Then either fry it over a stove until it reaces the desired crispiness or deep fry it for about 2 minutes. • You can choose for yourself which parts to eat, as the abdomen is sometimes disposed of.


Scorpion Soup


This soup can be eaten either as a starter or as a main course and tastes mostly of pork and dates. It is best accompanied by Chinese beer. Scorpions are eaten in the south of China. They are reared in ranches, mostly in people’s homes, then sold in the markets. Scorpions have a woody taste and should be eaten whole, except for the tip of the tail.


½ cup vegetable oil 30-40 live scorpions, washed 125g fresh pork 1 large garlic bulb, crushed 1 fresh ginger root, about 3 cm long

salt and pepper

½ litre water 1 handful dried Chinese dates

1 handful dried red berries 1 large carrot, sliced

• • • • •


Heat oil in a large wok. Stir-fry the scorpions for 20 seconds. Add the pork, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir–fry briefly, then add the water slowly. Add the other ingredients and simmer on a low heat for 40 minutes.


Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies


Crickets are eaten by humans in some African and Asian cultures. They are often considered a delicacy. They are also one of the most commonly used insects when it comes to food and are suitable for a wide array of recipes, from entres to desserts.


2¼ cups flour 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt 1 cup butter, softened ¾ cup sugar ¾ cup brown sugar 1 tsp. vanilla 2 eggs 1 12–ounce pkg. chocolate chips 1 cup chopped nuts ½ cup dry-roasted crickets

• • • • • • • • •


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8–10 minutes.


Grasshopper Fritters


In many places around the world, grasshoppers are eaten as a good source of protein. In Mexico for example chapulines are used as a snack or filling. It is found on skewers in Chinese food markets, like the Donghuamen Night Market. Raw grasshoppers should be eaten with caution, as they can contain tapeworms

Ingredients ¾ cup sifted flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt ¾ cup milk 1 egg, slightly beaten 1 cup grasshoppers

1 pt. heavy cream beaten stiff

• • • • • •


Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. Slowly add milk and beat until smooth. Add egg and beat well. Pluck off grasshopper wings and legs, heads optional. Dip insects in egg batter and deep fry. Salt and serve.


Stick Insect a la Rouge


All species of Stick Insect taste roughly the same, although many people claim that the aroma of Indian insects lends itself more to roasting than boiling, and that the specimens from South America are better cooked very quickly, preferably in a small wok.

Ingredients 1 plump stick insect, filleted 1 strand of saffron 6–8 grains of rice

Small dab of butter 1 parsley leaf

• • • •


Place the saffron in the thorax of the stick insect, and fry in the butter until brown. Meanwhile, steam the rice and place in a warm serving dish about 3 cm in diameter. Place the cooked insect on the rice bed, and lay the parsley around its head. Serve immediately.


Mint Chocolate Covered Ants Background

Ants and their larvae are eaten in different parts of the world. The eggs of two species of ants are the basis for the dish in Mexico known as escamoles. They are considered a form of insect caviar and can sell for as much as 40 USD per pound because they are seasonal and hard to find. In the Colombian department of Santander, hormigas culonas (roughly interpreted as “large–bottomed ants”) are toasted alive and eaten.

Ingredients Desired amount of ants Semi–sweet chocolate Peppermint extract


• Melt chocolate and add the desired amount of peppermint extract (about 2 drops per cup of chocolate is standard). • Dip the ants into the chocolate and place on a piece of wax paper to dry.



This book was designed by Robert Sadler for Graphic Design 5 at Umass Dartmouth. It was completed in December of 2008. Software: Adobe InDesign Font: Lucida Grande Paper: Staples Photo Supreme 61lb 8.5 x ll Printer: Canon MP600

Entomophagy In The Mainstream  

A book about entomophagy, which is the practice of eating insects

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