Insect cuisine might seem strange or exotic, but it’s not out of reach for home cooks with these recipes and resources.
If you fancy whipping up some insect dishes of your own, here are some ideas and information to get you started.
Insect dishes range from incredibly basic – simply sprinkling some crunchy bugs on top of your favourite salad – to extremely sophisticated, such as this moth mousse recipe from the Nordic Food Lab. You can find a range of recipes in The Insect Cookbook and The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook.
In addition, many of the companies that sell insects online also include recipes on their websites. The British company Grub has developed a recipe for curried tempura grasshoppers with sweet chilli sauce, for example, and Next Millennium Farms (which is based in the USA) recently published a recipe for soft ginger cricket cookies.
Or you can try out one of these recipes, adapted from the Nordic Food Lab:
© Mari Kanstad Johnsen
Bee larvae granola
This recipe replaces the oil usually used to make granola with bee larvae, which are fatty and slightly sweet. You’ll want to start with fresh or frozen bee larvae – freeze-dried larvae won’t work. You may struggle to find these larvae online: Josh Evans from the Nordic Food Lab recommends finding a local beekeeper and asking nicely for his or her extras. Beekeepers often remove some of the drone bee larvae from the hive to keep the rest of the bees safe from Varroa mites (parasites that are particularly attracted to young drones).
If using frozen larvae, let them thaw, then use a blender or food processor to puree the larvae into a pale yellow liquid. Aim for a viscosity somewhere between milk and cream. Add honey to the bee larvae to sweeten. Stir this mixture into the rest of your granola ingredients – the Nordic Food Lab uses a combination of oats, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, fennel seeds, cracked dried juniper berries and salt. Bake at 160˚C for 15–20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
© Mari Kanstad Johnsen
Roasted locusts with wild garlic and ant emulsion
For the roasted locusts:
Remove the legs and wings from the locusts. Roast the locusts in an oven with butter and salt at 170˚C for 12 minutes, or until gently browned and crisp.
For the wild garlic and ant emulsion:
- 130 g neutral-flavoured oil (e.g. grapeseed or sunflower)
- 20 g egg yolk
- 5 g wood ants (Formica rufa)
- 52 g wild garlic (Allium ursinum) leaves
- 10 g water
- 0.75 g salt
Blanch the wild garlic leaves in salted water for ten seconds. Shock in ice water and drain. Squeeze as much liquid from the leaves as possible, then puree the wild garlic in a blender or food processor. Pass the puree through a very fine sieve. Refrigerate.
Cook an egg for 45 minutes at 65˚C. Cool in iced water, then separate the yolk from the white. Using a large beaker and an immersion blender, start the emulsion by blending the egg yolk with the water and salt. Add the herb paste and ants while blending, then add the oil one-third at a time until the preferred texture is achieved. Pass the emulsion through a very fine sieve, removing the minuscule ant parts, and serve with the roasted locusts.
Where to buy insect ingredients
- Next Millennium Farms is based in the USA but ships worldwide. They sell cricket flour and mealworm flour.
- Thailand Unique sells many different kinds of canned insects (including tarantulas and weaver ants), dehydrated insects and insect flour, as well as some prepared insect foods.
- In the UK, Grub offers a starter pack that includes crickets, mealworms, buffalo worms and grasshoppers.
- BugGrub, also based in the UK, sells a variety of insects – from silkworms to rhino beetles – plus chocolate-covered bugs and a waterbug chilli dipping paste.
- Edible Unique sells ants, water bugs, grasshoppers and more, in addition to cricket and silkworm flour.
- The Dutch company Bugs Originals sells locusts, mealworms and buffalo worms.
- Alternatively, grow your own insects with this mealworm farming kit from Open Bug Farm.
This is a partial list and not a particular endorsement of any one company. We haven’t tried these recipes, which are included for illustrative purposes only. Any insects and insect products are consumed at your own risk.