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Cooking with Insects

If you are a little squeamish about eating bugs, start out with nutritious cricket flour. Then graduate to entire insects.

Cooking with Insects? Here are the Basics

Feeling a little intimidated by the idea of learning how to cook with insects? Consider crickets your “starter” or “gateway” bug. It’s pretty hard to mess up cooking with crickets. You can’t overcook them because they armor over their entire body; they’re sealed up, there’s no way for moisture to escape.

Still a little squeamish about the idea of eating bugs? Dip your toe into the insect culinary arts by opting to start off with processed products that don’t have the visual yuck factor like cricket or mealworm flour, black ant powder, or grasshopper salt.

There are also a lot of companies now that make insect-based snacks like energy bars, chocolate bars, and protein powders if you’re less into the DIY cooking thing.

If you’re in the market for edible insects, chances are you can’t find them in your neighborhood supermarket or Farmers’ Market (except maybe in the dried and frozen foods sections of Asia markets). The easiest thing is to go online and start shopping. Most bugs—caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, etc.—are sold dried or flash frozen.

When it comes to cooking with bugs – and there are plenty of insect cookbooks to get you started –  it seems that flavor profile is a more important consideration than technique or method. Grasshoppers and crickets are more neutral in flavor, and therefore are great for showcasing whatever seasoning you give them, whereas something like bee brood are described as having a similar taste to almonds or peanuts. And flies that develop on cheeses will take on the flavor of their host, while other flies that grow around water habitats might taste like fish or duck. Stinkbugs, ironically, add an apple flavor when used in cooking. Long story short, do your research on the flavor of your chosen insect before assigning it a recipe.

Shellfish Allergy? Stay Away! If you suffer from a shellfish allergy, your “Cannot Eat List” also includes insects. Both shellfish and insects are classified as arthropods, having an exoskeleton and segmented bodies, and have proven to share some common allergens. So to be on the safe side, let’s just say if you have some not-so-pleasant reactions to eating shrimp, crab, and lobster, it’s probably a good/safe idea that you abstain from the entomophagy (a.k.a. eating bugs) trend.

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