Culinary Insect Delights

By Carolyn Belardo

Bug Fest is still two weeks away, but some of us already are salivating over the insect-laden dishes that “The Bug Chef” plans to whip up and serve at the annual festival. Others are not so eager to indulge.

This is the first year that Seattle-based David George Gordon, who calls himself “The Bug Chef,” will be behind the stove on the Academy’s stage. Visitors can watch as he deftly prepares Grasshopper Kabobs, Scorpion Scaloppine, and Deep-Fried Tarantula from his popular The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook. Large-screen projection will ensure the audience doesn’t miss an antenna or claw sizzling in the frying pan.

Gordon’s cooking demos will take place at 1 p.m. both days of Bug Fest, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 8 and 9. And from 11 a.m.–noon and 3–5 p.m., he will give out samples of his buggy treats, while supplies last.

Those who come dressed as a bug get $2 off admission. Or they could end up in Gordon’s cooking pot! To purchase tickets today, click here.

Gordon offers tips on how to cook (and how not to cook) with insects in this Philadelphia Daily News article: click here.

Here are some of Gordon’s favorite recipes so you can try them at home. Bon appetite!

 

Photo by Chugrad McAndrews
Photo by Chugrad McAndrews

Grasshopper Kabobs

Yield: 6 servings

For the marinade:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, thyme, and tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper

Ingredients:
12 frozen katydids, grasshoppers,or other large-bodied Orthoptera, thawed
1 red bell pepper, cut into 11/2-inch chunks
1 small yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a nonreactive baking dish. Add the katydids, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
2. When ready to cook, remove the katydids from the marinade and pat dry. Assemble the kabobs by alternately skewering the insects, bell pepper, and onion wedges to create a visually interesting lineup.
3. Brush the grill lightly with olive oil. Cook the kabobs 2 or 3 inches above the fire, turning them every two or three minutes and basting them with additional olive oil as required. The exact cooking time will vary, depending on your grill and the type of insects used. However, the kabobs should cook for no longer than 8 or 9 minutes.

 

Photo by Scott Stenjem
Photo by Scott Stenjem

Scorpion Scaloppine

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups low-fat milk
8 frozen desert hairy scorpions or a similar species, thawed
1 cup white cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Pour the milk into a medium bowl. Add the scorpions to the bowl and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Spread the cornmeal on a plate and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Working with one scorpion at a time, remove them from the milk, allowing the excess to drain off. Dredge the scorpions through the cornmeal, shaking off any excess.
3. Place the scorpions in the hot butter and cook until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Then turn the scorpions over and cook until done, about 1 minute more.
4. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with lemon juice and chopped parsley and serve.

 

Photo by Chugrad McAndrews
Photo by Chugrad McAndrews

Deep-Fried Tarantula

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 frozen adult Texas brown, Chilean rose, or similar-sized tarantulas, thawed
1 cup tempura batter (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1. In a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 350°F.
2. With a sharp knife, sever and discard the abdomens from the two tarantulas. Singe off any of the spider’s body hairs with a crème brûlée torch or butane cigarette lighter.
3. Dip each spider into the tempura batter to thoroughly coat. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to make sure each spider is spread-eagled (so to speak) and not clumped together before dropping it into the hot oil.
4. Deep-fry the spiders, one at a time, until the batter is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove each spider from the oil and place it on paper towels to drain.
5. Use a sharp knife to cut each spider in two lengthwise. Sprinkle with the paprika and serve. Encourage your guests to try the legs first and, if still hungry, to nibble on the meat-filled mesothorax, avoiding the spider’s paired fangs, which are tucked away in the head region.

For the tempura batter:
1 medium egg
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. To make the batter, beat the egg in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add the cold water, continuing to beat until evenly mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and beat gently until combined; the batter should be a bit lumpy.
2. Let the batter sit at room temperature while heating the oil.

 

For more information about eating insects, check out “Bugs are delicious (or, at least) trendy” on philly.com.

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