In case you missed it, trillions of Brood X cicadas are emerging in the eastern US for the first time in 17 years after spending most of their lives underground. Some are turning to pest control, but there's another more natural way to manage this insect inundation. Cook 'em up and eat 'em.
Why would you do that if there are so many other (arguably less creepy) things to eat? Well, many people are looking for alternative ways to consume protein to offset the environmental impact of raising cattle, for instance, which requires lots of space, water and other resources. Insects, on the other hand, and can boast more protein than meat.
The US Food and Drug Administration does, however urge caution for those allergic to seafood "as these insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters."
For the rest of us, "there is the yuck factor," Johns Hopkins University sustainable food expert Jessica Fanzo acknowledged in a statement, "but people who are looking for alternative sources of animal protein shouldn't rule out cicadas. Once you get over the look of them, they're quite tasty."
Oddly enough, a Google search for "cicada recipes" pulls up several ways to cook various species of these insects, from topping your pizza with them to squeezing them between some bread for a crunchy, extra meaty sandwich. Twitter has also been buzzing with conversations about these offbeat meal ideas, and chef Joseph Yoon has been sharing different ways to eat cicadas through his Instagram and Twitter account Brooklyn Bugs.
Experts say it's best to eat cicadas just after the nymphs have climbed out of their skin, when they're nice and soft. Just go outside with a paper bag and scoop them up. Cook them right away, or save them in the fridge or freezer for later.
Here are some recipes to try if you're looking to spice up your summer menu.
Cicada nymph spring salad
Let's start with a nice appetizer. Yoon has cooked up various ways to consume Brood X nymphs, including throwing them into a salad with asparagus, peas, red onions, chili, garlic, butter, lemon and mint. Looks extra crispy.
Cicada nymph chili guacamole
If you're looking for a little more crunch, consider pairing some chips with a nice cicada guacamole, also by Yoon. Start by combining mashed avocado with salt and pepper, squeeze some lemon on top, and sauté red onions, jalapeños, chili peppers and garlic. Throw in some blanched cicada nymphs and you're all set.
Now on to the main course. Yoon also cooks up a cicada kimchi with kennip, brown rice, cucumber and mint. It's all very artfully plated, and if you're uneasy about those little red eyes staring you down while you eat, you'll be happy to know you can't even spot the crushed-up critters in this dish. There's also a dash of extra protein, as the kimchi paste is mixed with cricket powder before the blanched cicada nymphs are tossed in.
Cicada nymph chocolate with 24k gold
If you're treating yourself to something as rare as these cicadas, it's only appropriate to go all out by topping them with chocolate and gold foil. Delectable. (Here's another recipe for chocolate-covered cicadas without the gold, if you're looking to scale back a bit.)
If you want to keep your meal prep simple, throw some fried cicadas into a pan of noodles and veggies and call it a day.
Anchovies are so mainstream. Try adding cicadas to your pie instead. Here's a recipe that includes kalamata olives, shiitake mushrooms, fresh basil and, of course, blanched cicadas.
- To finish off that pizza, opt for some chocolately cicada "Emergence cookies."
- Try grilling cicadas with some summer vegetables like squash and cherry tomatoes.
- Make this cicada and saffron risotto if you're looking for some bold flavor.
- This recipe book has everything from banana cicada bread to cicada stir fry.
- Shake up Taco Tuesdays with these "El chirper tacos."
- Another dessert option: cicada rhubarb pie.
- And here are the various ways to cook up cicadas: dry roast, deep fry or sauté them.