“People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they are exactly like the old ones.” – Charles Kettering
Well, folks…while I was hesitant to do so, I put my mouth where my typing fingers took me when I wrote Eating Bugs – Get Used To It!, and, with the assistance of close friend, fellow food blogger and culinary adventurer, J.D. Weatherby, we turned our bag of crickets into delicious edible insects.
With Charles Kettering’s quote at the top of this post in the back of my mind, I thought it would be best to try our edible crickets, a very new concept, with items we love, such as chocolate, butter, etc. We made Dry Roasted Crickets, Chocolate-Covered Crickets, Caramel-Cricket Crunch and chips with chocolate and topped with cricket powder (crushed dry roasted crickets), the last recipe just a great idea tossed into the mix by JD.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Harman at World Entomophagy made it so easy to obtain the properly prepared crickets, as he reached out to me directly after my previous edible insect post. A bag of “whole, dead, cleaned, and partially processed…” crickets (100 grams, which ends up being approximately 1/4 lb.) arrived on my doorstep within just a few days of ordering. Couldn’t have been easier!
I froze them for three days before preparing them, as life has a way of getting in the way, but when the time came for me to prepare them, they were good to go.
As it turns out, after a bit of research on my part, we needed to dry roast the crickets before we used them in any of the recipes we had in mind. All of the recipes we used came from the site Insects Are Food.
We preheated the oven to 200 degrees, aluminum foiled a baking sheet and sprayed it with non-stick cooking spray.
I’m not going to lie…at first the smell was not the most appealing, but as they baked, over the next hour, the smell subsided. I tested them to see if they were dry roasted enough after an hour. In order to test this, according to the recipe, you “test a cricket to see if it’s dry enough by crushing with a spoon against a hard surface or if you prefer, between your fingers. The crickets should crush somewhat easily. If not place them back inside oven until crisp.” After the first hour, it seemed like they could roast for a bit longer. So I put them back in the oven for another half hour, at which time they were done!
I tested them with a spoon, as the recipe recommended, and it worked well. At this point, I could NOT imagine actually touching the dry roasted critters with my bare hands, but that would soon change… We let them cool, as the next step would be to removed the antennae and legs. Word has it there is no need for them from a protein standpoint, and really, they just get stuck in your teeth.
Needless to say, at this point, I was well past having any problems handling the roasted crickets. They were now de-antennae-ed and de-legged. We put them in a bowl, salted them…and tried them!
Now that the crickets were dry roasted and not bad at all by themselves with only some salt, it was now all about incorporating them into other recipes. When you start with chocolate, honey, butter and popcorn, you can do no wrong.
First up was the Caramel-Cricket Crunch. We made the batch of popcorn with honey-caramel sauce and added nuts (why not?). You’ll see in the next video how I had to crush the crickets as I added them to the popcorn mix. This is optional. I just did it so they would be fully incorporated in the dish. With OR without the crickets, it was super yummy.
Next up, Chocolate-Covered Crickets! We put some parchment paper out on the counter, and we started with dark chocolate, because…well, why wouldn’t you?! After melting the dark chocolate, we dropped the dry roasted crickets (minus the antennae and legs) one-by-one into the chocolate. A fork was used to scoop each one individually out, letting the chocolate drip away, so the chocolate really would just cover the cricket alone, with little excess chocolate, if possible.
And then onto the chips dipped in chocolate with whole and dusted crickets on top! They are pretty much exactly what they sound like. When it comes to making the cricket dust, it’s all about just crushing up the bodies. Yep, I said crush the bodies.
Once all of the cricket munchies were made, it was time to invite my husband and daughter in to try the finished products. My 3 1/2 year old little girl not only tried one chocolate-covered cricket, but she went back for another! And while she wasn’t a big fan of the whole dry roasted crickets on the chips, she LOVED the chocolate-covered chips with the cricket dust on them!
This entire experiment was a success! I ended up bringing some leftovers to my work the next day, and everyone in my office tried at least one item. I was so impressed. Once again, considering 80% of the world eats insects, I think it’s high time we, as Americans, get on board…and at least try them! And we are getting there…For example, if you go to San Francisco, you can find Don Bugito (an edible insect food truck), and Chapul Bars (made with cricket flour) are becoming more and more popular. If you haven’t already, you should check out David George Gordon, The Bug Chef, not to mention Daniella Martin (Girl Meets Bug) and her insect/cooking travel show!
“But the big advantage of eating insects is that they are generally healthier than meat. A six-ounce serving of crickets has 60 percent less saturated fat and twice as much vitamin B-12 than the same amount of ground beef. You don’t have to sell the idea to the people of Madagascar; they eat about 15 different species of insect. And other countries — including Thailand and China — consume vast quantities of bugs…Despite the science and the health factors, getting Americans to drop their fear and squeamishness of insects and to start eating them will take some doing. But that could happen as other sources of protein become more expensive and harder to grow. For now it’s a fad that — if you partake — will amaze your friends and family. But eventually we may be having bugs for dinner.”
Thanks for joining me on this adventure! It’s your turn to try something new and share your story!