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Do insects taste like crustaceans?

My husband and I joke that crab are giant bugs, as are shrimp, lobster, and mudbugs, and then tried to find some information about the taste of actual bugs through the following posts:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/627219
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/295197
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/269887
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/393573

Having not eaten grubs, grasshopper, ant larvae, or the like, but having had eaten most crustaceans, eels, and other crawling sea creatures, my logical question remains: what do insects taste like? Is it anything like crustacean meat?

My intent is not to disgust; I'm simply curious.

Thanks!

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  1. This could be a difficult question to really answer accurately. I assume that the crabs, shrimp, lobster and mudbugs were all cooked. I'm also going to assume that you're asking about the taste of cooked bugs. I have only tasted a few different bugs and in my experience, all were deep fried and seasoned with salt, soy sauce or fish sauce. All had a taste reminiscent of salty potato chips. The problem really is that most insects are quite tiny, and unless you're eating them raw or perhaps steamed, it would be tough to discern much individual flavour, beyond texture. I got the impression that their appeal, besides being a cheap and plentiful source of protein, was the crunchiness and saltiness provided by the deep frying and seasoning. Most people were eating them the way we would salty nuts or popcorn with beer. As seafood is much more precious and delicate, it isn't desirable to give it that type of treatment when cooking.

    Now, on the other hand, if you're wondering how insects taste raw, versus raw seafood, I can't comment. I have no experience with raw bugs, and scant little raw seafood, beyond what might appear on a sushi platter in a higher end restaurant. In case you're wondering, my deep-fried snacks consisted of a couple of beetles, a couple of crickets and a grasshopper or two. My SO indulged in a cockroach as well. Our comments were virtually the same for each, except that I found the grasshopper legs similar to chewing and swallowing splinters off a toothpick. Not a great sensation for me. The crickets and beetles were perfectly tasty. If I had them in a mix with seaweed and wasabi flavour cracker snacks, I'd probably eat them by the handful. BTW, I passed on the small snakes, scorpions and cockroaches. The 5 or 6 bugs I consumed were more than enough adventure for one meal.

    I have seen recipes calling for insect larvae and I have a feeling that texture might be an issue here too. I would be less inclined to try something like this. You could argue that the texture might be similar to some seafood roe/spawn dishes, but I'm not sure I'd jump at those either.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      As somebody who has tried crickets, I can honestly say no. I actually thought they tasted like seasoned plastic. Sort of like when you bite into the tail of the shrimp. Unfortunately the legs didn't fall off. I probably would have liked them better if they didn't look like bugs.

      1. re: 1sweetpea

        Concur with your statement. All of the bugs I've eaten have been small and deep-fried or roasted. Haven't had a huge range of insects, but tasted them in Mexico and Thailand. So they basically took the flavor of whatever flavorings were added. Texture is indeed similar to potato chips -- not the kettle-cooked but the thinner, cheaper Wise brand burnt bits. I think the gross out factor is more in the thought of it (at least to most Americans) than the taste.

        However, I've had really small shrimps that have been dried and stir-fried and seasoned Korean-style. I remember my friend refused to eat them because he thought it looked like insects! Those shrimps did taste "shrimpy" and unlike the bugs I've eaten in the past.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. 1sweetpea has it right. White grubs in the Philippines become adult beetles and swarm once a year or every two years depending on species. They're deep fried, crunchy, salty goodness (and the legs all fall off in the frying). No similarity to shrimp or lobster. Same thing for ants.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Sounds just like South African Mopani worms (Mashonzha)... delicious with an ice cold Castle Lager:
            http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&a...

          2. I have no experience in this matter, but surely the taste would vary enormously depending on the particular species, and even the life cycle of any given species.

            1. I will almost certainly tonight have a nightmare about lobsters splattering on my windshield.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Though the recent storm was intense, I was able to collect over two dozen lobsters that hit my car. Those that were "blendered" or hit head-on were minimal. On cooking, I just spit out the shell. A lot better than running over crickets.

                1. re: Scargod

                  Those head -on lobster hits should make for a nice bisque.The "glancing blows" are usually still good for a lobster roll, and if you get a clean head strike above the thorax, thermidor is still a viable option.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Thanks for the heads-up! I did toss those with crushed thoraxes. Still, couldn't the tail still be good for something?