(With apologies to Marie Antoinette. This post is dedicated to readers who have lost their pensions or unemployment benefits or who are looking at having their hours, wages or Social Security benefits reduced. Some simple cricket recipes below. Please note in preparing cricket flour, you must first remove the legs and antennae. Next week: garden snails recipe from Gordon Ramsay.)
Excerpts from the UN’s Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed
By 2050 the population of the Earth will be 9 billion, and food production will have to double to feed them all. This will be a major challenge, given that oceans are already overfished and a growing shortage of fresh water, which will drastically worsen as the planet warms. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations believe that edible insects, both as food and animal feed, may be the answer to growing food shortages.
They point out that over 1900 insect species of insects edible and two billion people around the world already consume them as a regular part of their diet. Insects are a highly nutritious and healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and essential minerals. The most common insect species used food are bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, leaf and planthoppers, scale insects and true bugs, termites, dragonflies and flies.
Farming insects for food or animal feed is relatively new but has enormous potential, especially in third world countries. Insect rearing is not necessarily a land-based activity and does not require land clearing to expand production. Moreover because they are cold-blooded, insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein (crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein). Like pigs, they can be fed on organic waste streams.
As a business, insect harvesting and rearing is a low-tech, low-capital investment option that offers entry to the very poorest sections of society, including the landless. Protein and other nutritional deficiencies are typically more widespread in disadvantaged segments of society and during times of social conflict and natural disaster. Because of their nutritional composition, accessibility, simple rearing techniques and quick growth rates, insects can offer a cheap and efficient opportunity to counter nutritional insecurity by providing emergency food and by improving livelihoods and the quality of traditional diets among vulnerable people.
Simple Cricket recipes (from http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html)
It is important to note that crickets should only be purchased from reliable sources. Crickets should be treated much in the same manner as any other raw food, in particular seafood. In other words it is best to keep crickets fresh as possible. Prior to preparing your crickets for a meal place them inside a plastic container or storage bag and keep them in the refrigerator at least for an hour or until you are ready to use them. This will not kill the crickets, but rather slow down their metabolism, inducing a state of hypothermia, in other words, prohibiting their movement when removed from container. If you prefer however, as many people do, feel free to place them inside the freezer for an hour or two as this will definitely kill them, guaranteeing their immobility.
After removing from refrigerator or freezer, place them in a pot of boiling water sized to hold the specific amount of crickets you’re using. Add a few pinches of salt. Boil for about two minutes. This ensures cleanliness. Once boiled, remove from water and let cool. Crickets at this time can be placed in storage bags and kept in the freezer or used right away for any number of recipes. All crickets should be prepared in this manner prior to eating.
Dry Roasted Crickets
Served as a snack for any number of persons
25 – 50 live crickets – or however many you wish to cook/serve
Salt, or any preferred seasoning that can be shaken or sprinkled onto crickets after roasting.
Next, preheat oven to 200 degrees. Arrange the crickets on a cookie sheet, making sure none of them overlap. Proceed to bake at low temperature for about 60 minutes or until the crickets are completely dry or dry enough for personal taste.
Open up oven at the 45-minute mark and test a cricket to see if it’s dry enough by crushing with a spoon against a hard surface or if you prefer, between your fingers. The crickets should crush somewhat easily. If not place them back inside oven until crisp.
Once roasted and cooled down, place a few crickets between your palms and carefully roll them breaking off legs and antennae in the process. This ensures clean and crisp crickets without legs or antennae getting in the way of.
Season them with salt, Kosher salt, sea salt, smoked salt or whatever sort of seasoning you wish. They are very good and healthy to eat as a roasted snack. Eat them on the spot or place them back into the freezer for future use.
4 cups of flour
1 cup of roasted crickets (¼ – ½ cup of crickets to every cup of flour works well.)
Break off the antennae and legs by gently rolling the cricket between your hands.
Once you collect enough crickets in a bowl proceed to crush either using a mortar and pestle or rolling pin on a hard surface.
Gather the crushed crickets – they should look like small specks (usually of dark brown color) and blend them well into the flour of your choosing.
Once you’ve blended the crickets with the flour you’re set to use it in any way you wish.
Hoppin’ Good™ Cricket Fried Rice
Serves 4 – 6
4 cups cold cooked brown rice
1 ½ cups of roasted crickets (about 3 – 4 dozen)
1 cup chopped scallions
½ cup cooked corn kernels
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Powdered ginger to taste
Powdered coriander to taste
Garlic powder to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
1 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce or oyster sauce, as desired
Wash and finely chop scallions. Lightly beat the eggs with salt, ginger, garlic powder, coriander and pepper.
Heat a wok or frying pan and add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs. Cook, stirring, until they are lightly scrambled but not too dry. Remove the eggs and wipe clean the wok or frying pan.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add rice. Stir-fry for a few minutes, using wooden spoon to break it apart. Add crickets. Add scallions. Stir in soy sauce or oyster sauce as desired. Continue stirring for a few more minutes.
When the rice is heated through, add the scrambled egg back into the pan. Mix thoroughly. Stir in corn kernels. Serve hot.
This dish goes great with any other dish or appetizer, i.e., cooked greens, egg rolls, dumplings, etc.