David George Gordon, aka the “Bug Chef,” creates culinary masterpieces using crickets, ants, grasshoppers, water bugs, centipedes, scorpions, and more. He is the author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, which features 40 insect recipes, and regularly hosts interactive cooking demos. Popular Science spoke with him about his Thanksgiving plans for this year.
What are you eating and/or cooking for Thanksgiving?
This year I am traveling in the United Kingdom, where Thanksgiving is not such a big deal. However, in the past, I’ve served grasshopper kabobs, cricket and chestnut stuffing, and cranberry cockroach relish, among other bug delights. I also enjoy deep-fried tarantula spiders and chocolate-dipped capulines, which are small, wild-harvested grasshoppers that have been roasted and seasoned in Oaxaca. Another one of my all-time favorites is my three bee salad.
Why eat bugs?
I urge people to eat insects and their kin because they are nutritious, delicious, and more environmentally friendly than beef, chicken, or pork. AND it’s fun to tweak people about their oftentimes arbitrary food preferences. Add bugs to your menu on Thanksgiving! If you happen to have leftovers, put them in your bird feeder to give our feathered friends a treat.
Can you share some insect recipes?
Yes — these are both from my Eat-a-Bug Cookbook. Bug appetit!
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 cups canola or vegetable oil
- 2 frozen adult Texas brown, Chilean rose, or similar-sized tarantulas, thawed
- 1 cup tempura batter (see below)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 350°F.
- With a sharp knife, sever and discard the abdomens from the two tarantulas. Singe off any of the spider’s body hairs with a crème brûlée torch or butane cigarette lighter.
- Dip each spider into the tempura batter to thoroughly coat. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to make sure each spider is spread-eagled (so to speak) and not clumped together before dropping it into the hot oil.
- Deep-fry the spiders, one at a time, until the batter is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove each spider from the oil and place it on paper towels to drain.
- Use a sharp knife to cut each spider in two lengthwise. Sprinkle with the paprika and serve. Encourage your guests to try the legs first and, if still hungry, to nibble on the meat-filled mesothorax, avoiding the spider’s paired fangs, which are tucked away in the head region.
- 1 medium egg
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- To make the batter, beat the egg in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add the cold water, continuing to beat until evenly mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and beat gently until combined; the batter should be a bit lumpy.
- Let the batter sit at room temperature while heating the oil.
Three Bee Salad
Yield: 4 servings
- 1/2 cup (about 40) frozen adult bees
- 1/2 cup (about 60) frozen bee pupae
- 1/2 cup (about 60) frozen bee larvae
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 ounce bee pollen granules
- Lettuce for serving
- Nasturtium petals or other edible flowers for serving
- Bring two quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the adult honeybees and return to boil for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bees from the water. Pat dry with paper towels and allow to cool.
- To the same water, add the honeybee pupae. Repeat the procedure for cooking the adult bees (but watch how you pat these little guys with the paper towels!), also allowing the pupae to cool.
- Repeat the same process with the honeybee larvae.
- In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked adult bees, followed by the pupae, then the larvae.
- Immediately before serving, add the bee pollen granules, stirring the mixture to ensure that the granules are evenly distributed.
- Serve on a bed of lettuce, decorated with the nasturtium petals, a bee-utiful touch for this bee-atific dish.