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Eating insects in China (or elsewhere)


hzrt8w
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There are a few blogs linked in this forum which mentioned insects as snack food in China (and pictures).

I am fairly adventurous when it comes to eating. But I have yet tried eating insects. I know, I know, some said it's just a source of protein. Scott O'Grady, the down pilot, relied on eating ants to survive while waiting to be rescued.

Has anyone tried eating insects in China (or elsewhere)? Would you share with us what you thought of them?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Does anyone remember these? Do chocolate covered ants and baby bees count?

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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I went to an insect restaurant in Beijing. They fry everything crispy, and had lots of selection. I have to admit the thrill came not from the fabulous taste of the insects, but from the idea that I was eating them. Many insects are eaten for their health properties in China. You might want to research that so that when you go you have more of an educated perspective on the experience.

I had grasshoppers, fried crisp. They needed a little bit of salt, in my opinion. In the process of eating these, I finished off three beers, which made things a bit easier.

The scorpions were slightly scary to eat, since I was not sure if the stingers contained venom. I later read up on the topic and realized that I had nothing to fear. But being scared was part of the thrill. :smile:

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I saw scorpioins being sold at the markets in Guangzhou but they were alive, not cooked, and since I had no idea how to prepare them, I didn't buy them (not sure if I wanted to bring them back to Hong Kong anyway - what if they got loose?). But I have eaten bugs in Bangkok where they're sold as street food. The vendor I went to had about eight different types of bugs, including large grasshoppers and "things-with-wings" several inches long, that I was too scared to examine more closely. There were also these water beetles that terrify me - they're about 2" long and when they fly or crawl into my flat, I run screaming from them. I'm a very adventurous eater but I had a hard time eating bugs, mostly because I'm a scaredy-cat and am afraid of them even when they're alive. I decided that this was a stupid phobia that I needed to overcome, and so, with the help of my Thai friend, I bought three types - small grubs about 1/4" long and fairly round, what Supapohn called "express trains", which were long (about 1") and very thin, and crickets. They had all been fried and the vendor sprinkled some white powder on it (it might have been MSG - I should have asked) and what I believe was Maggi sauce.

The express trains were good - I had no problems with them at all. The grubs were fine too, once I got over my initial squeamishness. A faintly crisp bite on the outside and soft inside, but not squishy. I guess the texture of the interior is closest to eating all that yummy stuff on the inside of the crab shells (I think it's the guts and/or roe). The crickets were the hardest. I ate the wings (very crisp) but I just couldn't eat the body/head parts - the eyes were staring up at me! I tried but failed...

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I remember eating those "giant" water beetles 46 years ago, in HK. I am not sure I can handle them now.

In memory, they were crispy, and eaten like popcorn at the movies.

Cockcroaches are supposed to be good medicine for people with asthma.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I remember eating those "giant" water beetles 46 years ago, in HK. I am not sure I can handle them now.

In memory, they were crispy, and eaten like popcorn at the movies.

Cockcroaches are supposed to be good medicine for people with asthma.

But how do they get the cockroaches clean enough to eat - aren't they filthy? Can you imagine having a job as a cockroach cleaner (little brushes to scrub their little feet :laugh:) Or are they specially raised?

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Not exactly insects but I had worms steamed in eggs before, it tasted like fish intestines steamed in eggs.I prefer fish intestines more due to its richness but it is still interesting to try the worm. If it is on the table next time, I will still take some. :hmmm:

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Last spring, my ten-year old son...inspired by a Eat-a-Bug cookbook he had been reading....grabbed a small beetle that landed on top of his desk at school.

Popped it into his mouth. Ate it.

His classmates nearby either slightly giggled or looked shocked, depending on their personalities.

The teacher (who it turns out, is seriously bug-phobic) ran across the room semi-shrieking and grabbed him (by the way, this is a quiet happy kid, good grades, never gets in trouble) by the collar and hauled him down the hall to the principal's office.

She called me in semi-hysteria, insisting that I 'talk to him'...for 'she had NEVER seen such a thing in her entire life'.

I asked him what was going on, and he told me.

I asked him why he ate a bug.

"It tasted good, Mom" he replied, "It just tasted good."

That answer was good enough for me! :biggrin:

The teacher's final comment while ending the phone call to me, was that overall, she was glad it happened, for she would now turn the occasion into a 'Teaching Moment' to warn against such dreadful things, that very afternoon.

Sigh.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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I have a feeling you're talking about this:

We stumbled upon a night market, although it was really a late-afternoon market because it got into full swing at about 4:00pm. The market consisted of a lineup of about forty booths selling all sorts of Chinese delights. While I hadn't burned out my camera battery at the Forbidden City (as most other tourists might do), I feared that this would be the end of my "juice" for the trip. The market was so fascinating. I couldn't take enough photos -- there must have been 500 different food-on-a-stick items on offer. After Mongolia, the selection made me drool almost uncontrollably -- even if it was over skewered starfish and scorpions. Here are just a few examples. If you know what's good for you, you'll skip very quickly over the last photo-on-a-stick here:

chi1.jpg

chi2.jpg

chi3.jpg

chi4.jpg

chi5.jpg

chi6.jpg

chi7.jpg

chi8.jpg

chi10.jpg

chi11.jpg

chi9.jpg

Click here to begin your Mongolian adventure. :raz:

Soba

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Re: The pictures from the Mongolian adventure. The "birds"...are these the ones that are a favourite with Vietnamese people? They are usually still in their shells?

Does one have to pluck the feathers before devouring? or do you eat the whole mess?

I have 2 students from Inner Mongolia this term. I should send them the url and ask if they know anything about these delicacies. :wink:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I have a feeling you're talking about this:

If you know what's good for you, you'll skip very quickly over the last photo-on-a-stick here:

Soba

The Fruit Chan movie "Dumplings" had a great scene where the protagonist's wayward husband peeled and ate a third trimester balut as he fondled the leg of a young housemaid at poolside. That was one of the less provocative food-related images from the film.

Edited by Gary Soup (log)
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The juice of balut IS delicious. You're basically eating the most intense chicken soup imaginable - the baby chick is cooking in its shell, without any additional liquid to water it down.

The first bite is the scariest just because it looks so ugly. But once you get over that, it's fabulous.

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I feel sure that I'Ve posted about this before, but...

while researching to discover how to control a type of hairy caterpillar that was devouring our pine tree, I found that when they increased to plague proportions in Korea they used to be eaten...mostly because the caterpillars ate everything ELSE edible around.

Noticing that birds who ate the caterpillars died, the Koreans deduced that the poison was in the hairs. Somehow, they worked out that the correct way to eat poisonous caterpillars is to skewer 'em, roast them, and peel the skin and attached hairs off before eating. Apparently they taste, er, "resinous and piney".

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Soba

One of the pictures showed star fish. How do you eat a star fish? I have observed them in tide pools, picked some up and examined them. They have very hard shells. It's difficult to break them by hand. I cannot imagine myself biting into one of these. It will probably chip my teeth. Looks like the vendor just skewered them together, and grilled them (I assume)? Do you break the legs by hand then suck out the meat/whatever inside?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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When it comes to eating insects... it's not the insect meat itself (which probably is just proteins). It's the legs and wings. We don't know where the insects had been to. If they are cock roaches, you know where they had been to. I would imagine the legs and wings would pick up a lot of microbs/germs. I don't think these vendors would wash the insects very well, if at all. Would grilling be enough to kill off the microbs/germs?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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When it comes to eating insects... it's not the insect meat itself (which probably is just proteins).  It's the legs and wings.  We don't know where the insects had been to.  If they are cock roaches, you know where they had been to.  I would imagine the legs and wings would pick up a lot of microbs/germs.  I don't think these vendors would wash the insects very well, if at all.  Would grilling be enough to kill off the microbs/germs?

I really don't have much info' on cockroaches, other than what I have "heard" from one of my former cooks. They mentioned adding these pests into a soup with herbs.

I have never seen the large roaches other than in display cases. That's enough to scare me!

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I have had deep fried grasshoppers in Kunming. Taste just like you mght expect - deep fried grass. A friend told me that when she was younger her family sometimes caught and ate grasshoppers. They plucked off the hind legs, the stomach and stir-fried the remainder.

I also had ants in a salad wrap thing.

In a specialist insect restaurant I had battered bees fried in garlic and chilli & spring opnion. Crunchy and very tasty. But I think just about anything tastes good cooked up with garlic and chilli. Also had worms that are found in the soil around the roots of bamboo plants. Deep fried, these were then stir-fried with peanuts.

Of course we have all eaten plenty of insects, usually unknowingly. Most of us have 'eaten' flies, mosquitoes and other UFOs a as we ride or run open-mouthed. And what about the microscopic ones we miss when we wash vegetables?

yep, I we have all tried insects.

Edited by jacko (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

When I read this comments on insects a while ago I was actually in the middle of writing up a piece about eating insects in China... anyway, if anyone is interested it was in the Financial Times Weekend section on Saturday and is currently on their website... pretty tasty meal actually!

Fuchsia D

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When I read this comments on insects a while ago I was actually in the middle of writing up a piece about eating insects in China... anyway, if anyone is interested it was in the Financial Times Weekend section on Saturday and is currently on their website... pretty tasty meal actually!

Fuchsia D

Welcome aboard Fuchsia! I really enjoyed your presentations at the WoF conference last weekend -- fabulous to have you here!

BTW, if anyone wants to try insects in Los Angeles, go to

Typhoon, 3221 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, CA 90405-3213, Phone: (310) 390-6565.

Their insects include:

INSECTS

NOTE! Some ingredients may not be available

due to supplier’s shipping failures

CRICKETS* 7.95

Taiwanese stir fried style with raw garlic, chili peppers

and asian basil

CHAMBAI ANTS 8.00

Manchurian Ants sprinkled on potato strings

WHITE SEA WORMS* 8.00

Thai style crispy fried on spinach leaf with ginger,

chili pepper, peanut, lime with Tamarind dipping sauce

Here's a picture of their crickets and their white worms.

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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When I read this comments on insects a while ago I was actually in the middle of writing up a piece about eating insects in China... anyway, if anyone is interested it was in the Financial Times Weekend section on Saturday and is currently on their website... pretty tasty meal actually!

Fuchsia D

A bit of a correction for you Fuchsia. Your 'eating insects in China' article available online at the Financial Times website, is only available to subscribers of the site. I just checked to make sure. Haven't checked the Financial Times site in many many months for their food articles, since I became aware that they switched it to a pay site. BTW, I did pick-up the Financial Times Weekend edition over the weekend, so I have a copy of your article.

-Steve

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