I've been wanting to try crickets ever since I watched Salma Hayek chow down on cricket tacos on Ellen a couple years ago.
And I finally got my chance last week at Vij's in Vancouver! Vij's cricket bread appetizer is #28 on Vancouver Magazine's Eat This: 101 things to taste before you die (and while in Vancouver, Hubby Kris and I managed to cross off at least a dozen items on this list without even trying - stay tuned for more later...)
Vij's spicy ground cricket parantha with tomato-onion chutney and celeriac salad:
Looks pretty harmless, right? But it's 70% ground cricket! And very filling too - crickets are a great source of protein (and I'm all for alternative sustainable protein sources). Tasted pretty good too - slightly nutty, like a multigrain flatbread. But the flavor was so mild I really couldn't tell there were bugs in it.
The observant staff at Vij's noticed our enthusiasm about the bread and asked whether we'd like to try the crickets on their own? Yes, please! A few minutes later, 4 roasted crickets arrived at our table. And they tasted exactly like the bread - mild and a bit nutty. "Just like pumpkin seeds!", declared owner Vikram Vij when he stopped by the table to say hello.
So where does one get enough crickets to make that much bread every night? "Near Abbotsford, BC, just across the US border, from a pet store", replied Vij. Awwww, poor little guys, I'd forgotten that people keep crickets as pets! "Don't worry," assured Vij, "we freeze them before cooking them, it's more humane that way." I guess the cold makes them sleepy like their crustacean cousins. And just in case you were wondering, crickets are the same as shellfish when it comes to food allergies.
Can't make it to Vancouver to try Vij's cricket bread? Make it at home - Vikram Vij shared his parantha recipe with the Globe & Mail recently. Or become friends with Salma Hayek, and maybe she'll bring you some crickets as a hostess gift. And for those with a sweet tooth, the ever popular Cricket Lick It!
Interestingly enough, I'm not the only blogger eating crickets this week - check out Eileen's insect dinner at Typhoon restaurant at Eileen Likes To Eat and Eating Vancouver 09 - food insanity pt 2 - The Church of Vij's at EAT. DRINK. LIVE.
Now go eat some insects already!
After getting a couple of reader requests about where to buy crickets, I called Fluker Farms to ask whether their live bulk crickets are suitable for human consumption. They responded, "No, we do not recommend them for human consumption because they are not raised for that purpose. However, they have been used before on shows like Fear Factor."
So the search continues...