Cicada snacks are back in the news, as Brood II of the 17-year cicada population begins to emerge all over the northeast. The noisy insects aren’t normally considered good for much but making a racket, but Drexel University entomologist Isa Betancourt has dubbed them “the shrimp of the land” in her attempt to promote the oversized bugs as a tasty source of protein.
Like shrimp, crab, and lobster, cicadas too are arthropods, she pointed out.
OK, but I don’t know about that logic. Cows and rats are both mammals, and probably more closely related to each other than a shrimp is to an insect…but that doesn’t stop me from feasting on hamburger and getting grossed out by the rodent.
However, I’ve tried other sources of alternate protein in an insect-cooking class at the New Orleans Audubon Insectarium, so who knows? Heck, our own Megan Charles has written a detailed description of all the tasty insect choices out there that you can eat.
Jenna Jadin and the University of Maryland “Cicadamaniacs” have published an online cookbook for many years called Cicada-Licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas.
It’s jam-packed with all the recipes you might ever need, even during this summer’s expected emergence that will have billions of the 17-year Brood II cicadas bursting onto the scene from Georgia to upstate New York.
There are recipes for such delicacies as soft-shelled cicada snacks, Shanghai cicadas which feature a Cantonese twist, and cicada dumplings. The more traditional mid-Atlantic cook might try Maryland cicadas which includes classic Old Bay® seasoning in the list of ingredients.
Like soft-shell crab, a soft-shell cicada is at that stage where it has just emerged from its tough juvenile exoskeleton. Only, you know, it’s an insect and not a crab. Yummy. The picture up top shows a soft-shelled Peruvian cicada right after breaking free of the shell.
You could start your cicada cookin’ plans by checking out a YouTube video called “Cooking and Eating Cicadas — Yum!” from Tennessee Home and Farm. In it, you’ll see the chef prepare stir-fried cicadas, which he said have a “kinda nutty, kinda earthy” flavor.
You’ll also see the victim — I mean co-host — eat the stir-fried periodical insects followed up by chocolate-covered versions for dessert.
“If there was ever an insect I’d want to eat covered with chocolate, it would be cicadas,” he said. Well, that’s a rave review if I ever heard one. Not. The look on his face is priceless.
Since I’ve already sampled other stir-fried and chocolate-covered insects, I see no real reason to turn up my nose at cicadas. What about you?
Think you’d ever dare to try cicada snacks?
[soft-shell cicada emerges from juvenile exoskeleton by Ryan M. Bolton via Shutterstock]