Silkworm Toast-Topper

Dreamt up by the ‘Culinologist’ team at US-based Culinex, this recipe was joint winner in an edible insect competition last year. ‘Pickled Pupae & Olive Chèvre Toasts with Mint’ certainly doesn’t sound like a quick 'n' easy dish, but we were drawn in by their pickling technique (and great images).

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Photo ©CuliNex/Marx Foods

Pickling the pupae in brine is definitely more interesting than the endless ‘fry/roast/salt’ versions of most bug recipes. It reminded us a bit of Nordic Food Lab’s ‘Bug Ceviche’, which you can read about here. But while ceviche is basically using acid (lime juice and so on) to ‘cook’ food, pickling is for preservation, using brine or vinegar.

Emily Munday, one of the recipe’s creators, told BUGSfeed: “The pickling serves to both add flavor and change the texture of the silkworms. The pupae we received were really dry and crunchy, and we wanted them to become part of the olive tapenade topping. Even after a good soak in the brine, they retained much of their sweet, somewhat cornmeal-like (almost like masa harina) flavor but were well seasoned with the salty, vinegary brine and were plumped up and softened (but not mushy).”

The website explains: “After a quick pickle in olive brine, these silkworm beauties get coarsely chopped and add a nutty, sweet corn-like flavor into a bracing olive topping, spooned over creamy chèvre-topped toast and sprinkled with fresh mint and a few crunchy, whole silkworm pupae.”

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Photo ©CuliNex/Marx Foods

Here’s the whole recipe, reproduced with kind permission of Culinex:

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce jar mixed olives, pitted, liquid reserved (Kalamata, Green etc.) (340g)
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45g) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) red onion, minced
  • 1 clove (5g) garlic, minced
  • ¾ package (10g) Silkworm Pupae
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar

For Cheese Spread

  • 8oz (225g) chevre soft goat’s cheese
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) milk (half & half or cream)
  • 1 tablespoons (1.5g) finely chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • ½ tsp (1g) lemon zest

For Assembly

  • Radishes, sliced thinly
  • Baguette, sliced ~ ½ inch (1cm) thick and toasted
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 5g Silkworm Pupae

Method

Drain olives saving liquid brine. Place olive brine into a small saucepan and reduce by 1/2. Stir in vinegar & pour over pupae and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add olives, olive oil, lemon juice, red onion, and garlic to bowl of food processor. Pulse until add ingredients are minced but not smooth, about 10 1-second pulses. Remove pupae from brine, and add to processor bowl, pulse a few seconds to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Mix chevre, milk or cream and chopped mint to combine until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To assemble, spread a thin layer of cheese mixture onto each toast round. Place three sliced radishes on top of the cheese. Place a spoonful of the olive and pupae spread on top and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped mint, a drizzle of olive oil, and the reserved silkworm pupae.

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