Buggy Over Bugs – Cooking With Insects

Cooking with insects can be really delicious once you get past the yuck factor!

Doug Strongman eating crispy spiderMeet my friend Doug Strongman. He cooks and eats insects. And bugs. And worms. Yup.

Doug is a biologist who studies and teaches mycology (all things fungal) and entomology (all about insects) at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. He likes to cook and eat the things that he studies. After all, what’s the difference between insects and things like snails, crabs, lobsters, mussels, or squid? And where would we be without bread and wine (yeast is a fungus and a main ingredient) and those heady but mold-laden cheeses (Roquefort, Stilton, Danish Blue). Oh yes, and how could we live without funky fungal mushrooms?

At the end of each entomology course Doug and his students dine on the kind of things they’ve studied. It’s an exotic meal and includes things like mealworms deep fried in garlic and butter, dry roasted crickets, bug blox (roasted insects in Jell-O), and
cricket cookies.

“No one has ever gotten mad-cow disease from eating bugs. In fact entomophagy—a fancy name for bug eating—is a very popular and in some places essential practice, where protein sources are lacking in the diet,” says the adventuresome cook. “It is really only Europeans, Canadians and Americans that turn up their noses at a good feed of insects.”

It’s true. Just the thought of eating mealy worms makes me squirm but I’m actually hoping that Doug will invite me to one of his class dinners. One shouldn’t be snobbish or wussy about these things. What do you think?

For a walk on the wild side you can buy crickets and mealworms at just about any pet store. Tip: don’t feed them for awhile (it helps clean them out) then rinse, pat dry and use in one of these recipes! You can also get more exotic varieties from a biological supply company like Carolina. Doug also recommends Entertaining with Insects by Taylor and Carter.

Now isn’t it time you chose a recipe and tried it on for size? Who is going to be the first brave soul to give one of these a try?

PS: Doug says if you make the cricket cookies, have a tooth pick handy as their hind legs may get stuck in your teeth.

cricket cookiesChocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies

2 ¼ C flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C butter, softened
¾ C sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 12-ounce chocolate chips
1 C chopped nuts
½ C dry-roasted crickets

Preheat oven to 375. 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 rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Mealworm Fried Rice

1 egg, beaten
¾ C water
¼ C chopped onions
4 tsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 C minute rice
1 C cooked mealworms

Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces. Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat and let stand five minutes.

bug bloxBug Blox

2 large packages gelatine (Jell-O works well)
2 ½ C boiling water (do not add cold water)

Stir boiling water into gelatin. Dissolve completely. Stir in dry-roasted leafhoppers. Pour mixture slowly into 13 x 9 inch pan. Chill at least 3 hours.

BLOX will be firm after 1 hour, but may be difficult to remove from pan. Cutting blox: dip bottom pan in warm water 15 seconds to loosen gelatin.

Cut in squares or make shapes with cookie cutters. Be sure to cut all the way through gelatin. Lift with index finger or metal spatula. If blox stick, dip pan again for a few seconds.

Photo Credits

“Doug Strongman eating spiders” © Doug Strongman. All Rights Reserved.
“Bug block Jell-O” © Doug Strongman. All Rights Reserved.
“Cricket Cookies” © Doug Strongman. All Rights Reserved.

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