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Mar 26, 2014 09:58 AM

Insect flour or otherwise cooking with bugs (and avoiding the ick factor)

Co-Exist had an article today or yesterday about insect cookbooks. A company on Shark Tank the other week makes protein bars with insect flour. It seems lots of the world eats bugs (I have only done so in Australia).

So do any of you cook with bugs or bug flour? I hear one can use it presumably with white flour or some gluten-alternative to make bread. I'd love to hear anyone's stories. I did a search for "insect flour" and only found problems with people finding bugs in their flour...

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  1. Noma and its research arm, Nordic Food Lab, have been exploring cooking with insects for a while now. Here, for example, is a post that experiments with making broths with various insects:

    There are other posts about insects at that site. At least one insect item has made it onto the menu according to the "Copenhagen" episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown.

    1. I have sad news for you ... there's no avoiding the ick factor.

      I once went to a TCM practitioner, and he claimed to be unable to translate two of the ingredients in my prescription. I didn't believe that for a minute, so did my own research ... one was white cockroach powder.

      I never filled that prescription. Truly a cure worse than the disease.

      But ... God bless you. I'm sure insects are extremely sustainable, and if we ever do anything truly stupid on this planet (i.e., nukes), they will survive even if we don't.

      3 Replies
      1. re: foiegras

        I think I can get over the ick of grasshoppers; not so sure about cockroaches.

        Remember the '70s with chocolate covered ants, bees and crickets and the fried ants?

        1. re: travelerjjm

          Ah but white cockroaches ... they are so obviously refined. You could eat them with a side of white asparagus.

          I do remember that ... but no one offered, and I never indulged. Or inhaled.

        2. re: foiegras

          You'd be surprised at how many insects are used in food (never mind the parts per million that are allowed).

        3. I agree with foiegras; I could probably eat crickets, ants, mealworms, etc. but having grown up in the Philippines where cockroaches the size of hamsters live in the sewers, I'd draw the line at eating those.
          I have a copy of "the Eat-A-Bug cookbook: 33 Ways to cook grasshoppers, water bugs, spiders, centipedes, and their kin" by David George Gordon. I haven't gotten around to making any of the recipes, although some of them look good. (Spiders and bees are helpful arachnids and insects, so I won't be eating any of those anyway).

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            1. I think we just need a "calamari"-type word that is the official "when it is food" term.
              I have only seen bugs/ insects/ the like as novelty foods, and I've had them--all were so over processed or sweetened that there was no way to tell if you really were consuming anything beyond a Jolly Rancher or Nestle Crunch bar.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                "chapulinas", the Mexican word for grasshoppers, sounds nice and friendly (at least to me). I've had them prepared Oaxacan style: after one removes the head, legs, wings and outer carapace, and marinates the remainder in lime juice and garlic, the result isn't that different from popcorn shrimp. They were tastier than snails, anyway.

                  1. re: tardigrade

                    Taco Bell Chapulinacho Bowls and Crunchwrap Chapulinas.... I can see it now!

                  2. re: Kris in Beijing

                    And you're in Beijing? It surprises my that you haven't seen insects. I can easily find silkworm pupae in the freezer section at Asian grocery stores here in the US. I can't imagine that they aren't sold in Beijing.