Prepare and cook them

As with any food source, there are countless ways to cook and eat insects.

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Crickets. Photo: Nordic Food Lab, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Cookies and cakes with insect flour are becoming popular - they pack in a lot of protein.

One increasingly popular product is flour – roasted crickets or grasshoppers ground into powder form, which can be used just like flour in both savoury and sweet foods. You can buy this online in various countries. For more information on regulations around edible insects, see here.

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Termites. Photo: BUGS the film

Sweeties are also a popular way to consume insects. You can now buy giant leafcutter ants coated in Belgian chocolate in department stores like Selfridges. Or lollipops with fragrant ants inside. Cookies and cakes with insect flour are becoming popular too – they pack in a lot of protein, unlike standard confection which is mostly just sugar and fat. This makes cakes with insect protein particularly good as a snack whilst hiking.

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These products are confined to the ‘novelty’ sections, perpetuating the idea that insects aren’t really ‘proper’ food. It seems likely that as entomophagy becomes more widespread insects will move from being seen as a gimmick or protein supplement to a real and diverse food source.

And that’s the attitude towards insects that you’ll see presented in this section of BUGSfeed that will hold a number of recipes treating insects as real food, as an independent ingredients that needs to be treated in an independent fashion - and in different ways to different outcomes. At times these recipes will be easily accessible everyday takes on how to utilize insects, and at other times they’ll be the advanced experiments of gourmet chefs.

How to dry-roast mealworms

How to dry-roast mealworms

These nutritious little larvae are bred in bulk for pet food and fish bait, and they make good snacks for humans too. It’s possible to buy dead, dehydrated mealworms online – you can eat them or cook with them straight out of the packet.

But these little larvae are pretty easy to grow at home too. If you manage to source some fresh mealworms, dry-roasting is a good ‘intro’ recipe – it’s easy and leaves you with a nutritious snack.

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Slightly nutty, but mostly bland: I’m cooking with mealworms

Slightly nutty, but mostly bland: I’m cooking with mealworms

Tasked with researching edible insects, I finally got to make some!

The mealworm is touted as one of the great revolutionising bugs of the entomophagy fad, as they’re easy to grow (even at home) and have good nutritional value. The trouble with the mealworm from a culinary point view is that it doesn’t really taste all that great. It doesn’t taste bad either. Glass half full: it tastes mild, and slightly nutty. Glass half empty: it’s just a bit bland.

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Crispy Thai Chili Maeng Da (and a cold beer)

Crispy Thai Chili Maeng Da (and a cold beer)

Deep-fried giant water bugs. Photo: Takoradee, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Giant Water Bug is eaten in a variety of ways in Southeast Asia. Concentrated essence or chili sauce which uses the bugs as a base might sound better for ‘entry-level’ entomophagy, though it’s worth noting that the ‘Mangda Essence’ sold in supermarkets is often synthetic.

Quick tip though – if in Thailand, be cautious when asking for this dish, as it’s also an unsavoury slang word...

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Bee-LT Sandwich

Bee-LT Sandwich

This recipe is adapted from the fantastic Girl Meets Bug blog. A connoisseur of all things insect, Daniella Martin’s website is a great source of information and ideas for wannabe entomophagists.

For instructions on how to prepare bee larvae got fresh from the hive, see here.

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Baby Bee Ceviche

Baby Bee Ceviche

This recipe comes from Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen. 

For instructions on how to prepare bee larvae got fresh from the hive, see here.

Ceviche can refer to a lot of dishes from different cultures, but the basic idea is that instead of heat cooking the food, acid does it. So there’s always some kind of vinegar or acidic substance involved.

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Peas & Bees

Peas & Bees

Another recipe from Nordic Food Lab, this is a creamy pea soup with bee larvae and lovage.

For instructions on preparing bee larvae harvested from the comb, see here.

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Honeybee Granola

Honeybee Granola

Another recipe from the chefs at Nordic Food Lab.

For instructions on how to prepare bee larvae got fresh from the hive, see here.

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Honey’s boring - here’s how to cook with bee larvae!

Honey’s boring – how to cook with bee larvae

Bee larvae are eaten throughout the world, particularly in southeast Asia but also across the African continent.

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Ant Chimp Stick

Ant Chimp Stick

One of the ingenious tools that chimpanzees use is a brush-ended stick which they dangle into a termite mound, pulling it out covered in tasty snacks - dubbed a ‘chimp stick’. The chefs at Nordic Food Lab came up with an ant equivalent, using liquorice root and honey and other delicately flavoured foods to complement the local wood ants and smelling carpenter ants.

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Juniper Gin with a touch of Ant

Juniper Gin with a touch of Ant

‘Artisan’ gins are all the rage, with a seemingly endless range of flavours and ingredients.

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