The Daily Meal goes Down Under and back to check out some of the most exotic bug dishes around the world.
From chocolate-covered ants to live ones sprinkled in salad, it seems that ants are the most popular and least nauseating bugs to eat. In Brazil, queen ants are a popular snack that come fried or dipped in chocolate. And celebrated chef Alex Atala of D.O.M. in São Paulo, the #2 restaurant in our 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean this year, serves giant Amazonian ants atop squares of sweet pineapple. What was once a treat for the poorer class is now a Brazilian tradition celebrated and enjoyed throughout the country.
It is no secret that Asia is a leader when it comes to entomophagy, the act of eating bugs. In China, fried cockroaches are a common snack. The cockroaches are said to taste like French fries with a powerful aftertaste that sticks around long after the cockroach is swallowed.
At one of Beijing’s popular markets, the Donghuamen Night Market, everything from fried scorpions to lamb kebabs is served to hungry customers. Fried scorpions are not for the faint of heart, but evidently they are a delicious treat that is said to taste like buttery popcorn. For those wondering about the pesky poisonous tails of this lethal animal, rest assured that when scorpions are fried, their poison is neutralized. Vendors sell both adult and baby scorpions fried, often seasoned with a hint of chili powder.
The idea of just seeing a spider is enough to make this writer jump out of her seat, so the thought of sitting down to eat one is simply ludicrous; yet in Cambodia, fried spiders are a delicacy, especially in the town of Skuon. The spiders are marinated in sugar and salt before being pan-fried in garlic. The spider is much meatier than many of its insect counterparts (and, yes, we know it's not an insect strictly speaking), and it is — brace yourself here — the abdomen, full of eggs and innards, that is thought to be the most delicious part.
Flying termites go by many names, including white ants or easels. In Uganda, these small bugs are a delicacy known as enswa that is often roasted or crushed into a paste. Termites are an excellent source of protein and alternative to cholesterol-raising red meat.
From Japan to Thailand, locusts are an integral part to the region’s diet, appreciated for their high fiber content. Hailed as a healthier and more environmentally conscious alternative to meat, locusts are often served deep-fried and are said to taste a bit like fried chicken.
Remember stinkbugs? These little insects release a fowl smell as a defense mechanism, but when boiled, they are said to taste like crunchy apples. Considered one of the more popular insects to eat, stink bugs, which can be used to flavor sauces and stews, are a good source of iodine.
Picture a chocolate chip cookie. Nothing queasy about that, right? Now replace those chocolate chips with wasps, and you have yourself a traditional Japanese wasp cracker. While this may seem like a snack worthy of a Fear Factor episode, these wasps are boiled, dried, and then added to the biscuit to be sold in local markets and stores. The case for insects being a high source of protein is a common thread in all bug dishes, but these stinging insects have a higher percentage of protein than most, if not all, of their six-legged comrades.
There is a scene in The Lion King where Timon and Pumba try to entice Simba with their unique taste in grubs. The animated movie goes on to show the three unlikely comrades slurping up gargantuan worms before launching into song. In Australia, grub is considered part of the bush meat family and is often enjoyed raw or lightly crispy. The skin is said to get crunchy like a roast chicken while the innards will take on the consistency of a scrambled egg. If you’re taking a page from Andrew Zimmern and trying the grub raw, the worm is said to taste of almonds.