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Name the Protein


Holly Moore
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This is a canape that will be served at "Food For Thought", a fund raising event coming up in Providence RI.

gallery_14_356_75143.jpg

Picture by David Winthrop

The protein is served atop a bed of watermelon, accompanied by a slice of apple, under the shade of a cocktail umbrella.

The source of the protein - Sunrise Land Shrimp.

The protein: Loin of Water Bug

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Eeewwww!!!!

I know, I know, I know I'm not supposed to say that, I know that people the world over have long enjoyed this cheap and easy-to-procure source of protein. I know that insects generally contain much more usable protein than does meat from mammals or poultry.

But where I come from, "water bug" means "roach."

Was that the reaction you were looking for?

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A reaction I expected, perhaps.

But I am more intrigued that there is someone out there who is filleting water bugs... and who also cares about flavor pairings and presentation.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I don't think I would have guessed insect, because.. well, I don't really expect them to be that color on the inside (though I suppose cooked flesh and raw flesh are two different things).

I wonder what it tastes like. It's certainly a little more palatable a presentation, for those who might be squeamish about sticking a whole bug in their mouth (crunch crunch!). The owner of Sunrise Land Shrimp says on his website that there is a relation between crustaceans and insects, so I wonder if it translates at all to a similarity in texture or taste. :blink: Thinking about them like crustaceans makes the idea of eating them a little easier.

I have to say, though, that this is significantly less appealing to me...

Cicada bread. (picture found here) I think the biggest problem for me bug-wise is the idea of the chitinous shell being in the flour (even if he claims it's barely perceptible)... That and the bread looks waaaaay too dense for my taste. :raz:

Oh, and scottie, some more perusing on the Sunrise Land Shrimp site found this: "A trio of Maengda - okay, Lethocerus indicus, the Giant Water Bug, but I just love the word "Maengda" - in the pan. Though they might look a bit like cockroaches, they're not related. Not that there's anything wrong with cooking up some cockroaches for supper, provided that they've been raised in sanitary conditions."

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

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Was it Alton Brown who pointed out that a lobster is just one step up the evolutionary ladder from a cockroach? It's just that for me that is one helluva big step! :raz:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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Interesting. I would never have thought insect flesh would be firm enough for something like this. I wonder how they decide which part is the loin, given the lack of traditional musculature.

All that said, I'd try it, were it offered.

Also a thought--plenty of people raise roaches far and away larger (meatier? hah!) than your average bathroom wall-scaling american roach in perfectly sanitary conditions for use as feeder insects--no reason we couldn't get into the same thing with those, and discoid or death's head roaches are colorful enough to maybe make for interesting plating, if you could get over the inherent screaming gribblies at eating bugs :)

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Is it very strongly flavored? Or is the goal to be able to eat it without noticing it much? I ask because of the size of the pieces of fruit.

I suppose one could consider bug-loin a garnish rather than the center event, in which case that must be some mighty tasty watermelon.

Spiders and crab are very closely related. Apparently giant tarantuala are quite tasty.

Screaming gribblies - precisely described. I'll be borrowing this phrase! Thank you.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Was it Alton Brown who pointed out that a lobster is just one step up the evolutionary ladder from a cockroach?  It's just that for me that is one helluva big step! :raz:

It's funny, my co-workers used to always give me shit for calling lobsters the 'cockroach of the sea'.... It's true though, shellfish are basically aquatic bugs. And bivalves are water filtration devices.

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Dave Gracer, not a member of eGullet, has asked me to pass on this information concerning water bugs:

-- Anyone allergic to shellfish should avoid insect dishes.  Crustaceans and insects are both arthropods, so the same allergy applies. 

-- the giant water bug is a popular food in several Southeast Asian countries.  Though the term 'water bug' is a somewhat-familiar euphemism for cockroaches these insects are not related to cockroaches [as already noted].

-- The meat is less 'loin' than 'breast,' since the putty-colored stuff on the melon comes from the animal's thorax.  Both large and capable of flight, this insect has more muscle tissue than one might expect.

-- The flavor comes on loud and clear in this dish.  While quite salty (it's used as a preservative; the product is shipped from Thailand and sold in Asian markets here on Styrofoam trays alongside frozen crabs and snails) there's also flourishes that are startlingly fruity and perfumy.  The preparation calls for parboiling the entire bug to lessen the salt quotient prior to filleting.

-- Chef Branden Lewis of the Genesis Center and I came up with this pairing to balance the salty/fruity hit of bug meat with the melon and apple.  The dish's first name arose from what many tasters have said the insect's meat tastes like: Jolly Rancher candy.  Having decided that Jolly Rancher Insect Canape might provoke litigation, we've settled on Sour Candy Canape instead.

-- All of the other insects I've served to the public -- crickets, cicadas, ant pupae, and more -- are eaten in their entirety.  These only do I fillet.  I haven't tried tarantula yet, but I've heard good things.

Thanks for your consideration,

Dave Gracer

Sunrise Land Shrimp

www.slshrimp.com

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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This is totally fascinating. I'm all for sea bugs and mudbugs, I'm curious about the tarantulas (which are supposed to taste very much like shrimp), and I've heard there are some large ants/ termites in Southeast Asia that taste like bacon. If it tastes like bacon, then that's a land bug I could get behind. Scorpions are supposed to be good, too.

I'm sure this book has been mentioned on eG many times before, but here's a link to Man Eating Bugs , which I used to own and which is really fascinating. I seem to recall the description of Giant Water Bug as sharp and acidic, which is not nearly as appetizing as fruity and salty.

I wonder what makes them so salty?

It's just the roachiness that really freaks me out.

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Tarantulas would have to be disassembled like crab I think. I recall seeing photos of one being consumed somewhere or other and the diners had cooked it on a fire and were cracking it open to get to the inside bits. Some species also possess horrible little irritating hairs, perhaps you could use a torch to take those off in a formal setting.

I did have a chocolate covered cricket once, it didn't really taste of much, just crunchy, like a nestle crunch bar. I suspect the prep was subpar though (freezdried cricket, cheap milk choc, it was definitely just a novelty item)

Has anyone here read that (for me anyway) childhood standby Beetles Lightly Toasted by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor? :D

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I did have a chocolate covered cricket once, it didn't really taste of much, just crunchy, like a nestle crunch bar.  I suspect the prep was subpar though (freezdried cricket, cheap milk choc, it was definitely just a novelty item)

My mom likes to tell my sister and I that she was fed crickets when she had whooping cough as a little girl as a Chinese medicinal cure. She's never commented on the taste, however.

Has anyone here read that (for me anyway) childhood standby Beetles Lightly Toasted by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor? :D

Never read it. My childhood food-related standby was Judi Barrett's Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs! Something about gigantic pancakes raining down from the sky was so heavenly to me when I was young. :wub:

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

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Try as I might, I can barely contain the screaming gribblies* at the thought of eating insects. I'm not even that big a fan of lobster and its ilk for the same reason--too many legs. Damn. I'd like to think I'm more culterally culinarily open-minded, but noooo...

The presentation in question is lovely, but I too wonder about the ratio of fruit to, er, meat. It would seem that unless land shrimp is particularly pungent, most of the flavor would simply be apple and watermelon?

My husband and son both tried raw (straight from the nest) termites in Belize and both declared that they taste "minty", but I was too much of a wimp to try them for myself.

* fabulous phrase... a friend of mine once described the shudder after a tequila shot as the "piss-wiggles", a phrase that's stuck with me ever since. I think "screaming gribbles" will as well.

Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
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Bekki, how exactly does one extract the termites? I imagine sticking a reed or stick down a hole and swizzling it around, then pulling it out?

In this case, our jungle guide, Percy, broke open the termite mound (I'd describe it more as a "hive") and let a few critters crawl onto his machete, then husband and son let a few critters crawl from the blade to their fingers, whereby they popped them into their mouths... Ewwwwwwwwwww :wacko:

Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
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Since this thread has morphed into a "name the bugs you and your loved ones have eaten", I just have to chime in.

I actually really like most of the insects I've eaten. I've found they're actually best done "medium-rare" so you still have some squishy inside to contrast with the crunchy outside. (I know this will really gross out a lot of people.) Although the only bugs I've cooked myself have been cicadas that I dug up in my garden this summer (Chicago had a big periodical cicada emergence this year). The nymph stage is supposed to be the most delicate, which is why I dug them out of the soil, rather than wait to catch them as they just emerged from the ground. Gently fried in butter, with a bit of s and p, they were sooooo good. Tasted like earthy cashews with a crispy coating and melted center. Couldn't get hubby to try even one though. I'd actually like to try my hand at more insect recipes.

I've had quite a few "overcooked" bugs, especially from street stalls in places like Thailand. At some point, after having been in the deep fryer for a while, they just turn into crumbly dry crunchy things. Kinda like spicy potato chips, but better when they're not cooked and seasoned into oblivion.

Also have eaten live termites on a number of occasions. I kinda like how they crawl around in your mouth before you crunch them. But then again I like the sushi they kill for you right there and then so that it's still moving a bit in your mouth when you eat it.

Anyway, insects are a fab source of protein, very little or no fat (although they're usually deep fried or sauteed, so that eliminates that benefit). And they are indeed related to crustaceans, so what really is the difference between sea bugs and land bugs?

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How would you season or sauce or accompany the live termites, for best flavor enhancement?

What did you serve with the cicada nymphs? What would you do differently next time?

If Sunrise Land Shrimp makes their product available (loin/breast/sortof of waterbug), will you be a buyer? (Do to agricultural laws, it may not be an option to grow your own giant waterbugs in the USA).

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Anyway, insects are a fab source of protein, very little or no fat (although they're usually deep fried or sauteed, so that eliminates that benefit). And they are indeed related to crustaceans, so what really is the difference between sea bugs and land bugs?

I remember, a few years back, listening to a radio show about various cultures' use of "bugs" as food. I don't remember the specific South African delicacy that most Yanks would find revolting: termites, perhaps? I do remember that the South Africans were horrified and grossed out at the idea of eating lobsters.

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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

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