Insects are destined to become a very popular food source in the years to come. “No way”, you say. Well, wait a minute, have you really thought about it? I mean properly. Have you actually tasted an insect? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. Let me share with you how I first came across insects as a food source.
Back in the good ole days, when I was younger, I used to travel a lot. One particular trip had me motorbiking around Laos with a small group of friends. It was amazing! When we arrived in Luang Prabang (the capital of Laos) we decided we’d try an “adventurous Laos dinner”. Of course we didn’t really know what we’d let ourselves in for. It’s one of the benefits of youth, you say yes first and think later.
The Adventurous Dinner
I can’t remember too much about the restaurant, and a Google search today hasn’t turned up anything, but I do remember the food. We were served 3 courses, each one was a large sharing plate for the table, the contents of which got more and more adventurousness each time. All the delicacies were some form of root, insect or native Laos dish. It was a bit like I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, but a bit more civilised, and we were paying for the experience.
As much as we were adventurous travellers, this was a whole new playing field. We ate fried mealworms, spiced ants and crunchy crickets (or perhaps they were grasshoppers?), and other delicacies accompanied by local curry sauces and pickles. These were all very edible and some, I’d even venture to say, were delicious.
My only regret from the meal was attempting to turn raw fish intestines into a type of nigiri sushi. This simply had me chewing more than I needed in order to swallow down the rice and fish. Not one of my best ideas! However, the overall experience was very good. Even the vegetarian amongst us had to try a couple of the worms and crickets.
Older and Wiser?
I’m considerably older now, and a little less adventurous, but I reminisce about that trip a lot. Imagine my surprise then, when I stumbled across someone selling insects in the UK. Yes, you heard me right, a new food startup is bringing insects to the unsuspecting British public. Who’d have thought 10 years after my first experience I’d see insects introduced into mainstream western food. Great news, now I don’t have to travel to Laos to get my cricket fix.
It was at Food Matters Live that I got to sample these little delights: chilli and lime crickets and a dark chocolate and mango bar made with cricket flour. You may be screwing up your nose but they’re tasty! If you didn’t know they were insects you really wouldn’t guess it. The chilli and lime crickets just taste like crunchy morsels of yumminess. Think of it like a crunchy seasoning, packed with flavour, perfect for snacking on, and a great source of protein.
Insects For Sale
So who are these crazy kids selling crickets?
They’re called Grub. Catchy name right? Two mates, Shami and Neil, have launched a food startup that produces and sells a number of different insect products including grasshoppers, crickets and two types of worms. Their product range currently includes cricket nut fudge, snack packs of edible crickets and larger packets of unflavoured insects ready for cooking into your favourite meal.
Looking to expand their range, Grub have just recently closed a successful kickstarter campaign to fund the production of their Eat Grub bar, the very same dark chocolate and mango bar made with cricket flour that I mentioned earlier. The bar is very fruity and chocolatey with a nutty earthiness that creeps in the more you eat, much like a lot of the other raw fruit bars found in health food stores. You really would have no idea that crickets had been anywhere near the Eat Grub bar, let alone part of it.
If you’re still not convinced, check out Shami and Neil’s kickstarter video.
If you need some ideas as to how you might use insects in your cooking at home there’s a couple of recipes you can experiment with on the Grub site. Or if you want to ease into it, simply replace beansprouts with mealworms in a stirfry or make a pad thai with crushed crickets on top instead of nuts.
The team at Grub have a couple of new products due to hit the shelves in April, the new Eat Grub bar and a new cookbook titled “Eat Grub: The Ultimate Insect Cookbook”. Go checkout their website, join the mailing list to get all the latest in insect news, and jump on the insect protein bandwagon. I dare you!
I’d love to hear about your insect adventures. Please give me a shout on Twitter and tell me what you’ve been up to. Can you beat my raw fish intestine story?