The roar of the Brood 2 cicadas is starting to die down in our woods here in Virginia. But it’s not too late to grab a few late bloomers and whip up a nutty tasting snack. Yuck, you say? Consider this: Most Americans eat a pound or two of insects each year in processed foods like bread and ketchup. There are even regulations stating the maximum amount of bug bits that a food can contain and still be fit for human consumption. These insect parts are usually abundant in strawberry jams, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, and similar pasty products. The most ironic part of the “Food Defect Action Levels” defined by the FDA is that insect parts actually make some junk foods more nutritious.
Now that you know you’re already a bug eater, maybe it’s not such a stretch to try a bug that many people prepare as a delicacy. The newly hatched cicadas (called tenerals) are considered the best for eating because their shells are not that hard.
Your prep work for cicadas is easy. Just harvest the slow-witted and slowly moving things in the early morning. They should be blanched (boiled for 4 to 5 minutes) soon after collection and before you eat them. Not only will this make their insides solidify a bit, but it will kill any bacteria and parasites. Remove the wings and legs. Now, at this point, you can either freeze them for later use, or cook with them immediately. When you’re ready to take the plunge in the kitchen, here are 7 options to try.
The Old Fashioned: This simple snack involves skewering and roasting cicadas on a slender greenwood stick over a fire for five minutes or on a metal skewer in the oven for 7 minutes at 400F. Brush on a little oil or butter toward the end so that any salt or spices you add will stick to the cicadas.
Cicada Pizza: Scatter some blanched cicadas across your favorite pie halfway through the normal pizza baking time, and the bugs will crisp up without drying out.
Cicada Stir-Fry:** Fire up the wok (or a skillet) and stir fry some of your favorite veggies with a couple handfuls of blanched cicadas.
El Chirpo Taco: Fry the blanched cicadas in a bit of oil and mix in your favorite taco seasonings. If your dining companions are squeamish, use crunchy corn shells instead of soft flour tortillas to camouflage the crunch of the bugs.
Critter Croutons:** Dress a bowl full of blanched cicadas with Italian salad dressing, drain them and lay them on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 7 to 8 minutes or until crisp. Cool them and top your favorite salad with these creative croutons.
Chocolate Chirp Cookies: Mix up and form a batch of normal cookies, and press one blanched cicada into the top of each raw cookie. Then bake them according to your cookie mix directions.
Maryland Cicada Boil:** Bring a gallon of water to boil, add some crab boil mix, potatoes, onion, smoked sausage, and pieces of corn on the cob. Boil for 30 minutes and add a pound or two of blanched cicadas. Boil 5 more minutes, drain, and sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning.
Ever eaten any cicadas? Take a second to tell us about your meal in the comments.