Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Crickets

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!

06/08/09 update:
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...



Heavenly Housewife said...

Mmmm crunchy LOL I'll have mine with a vanilla milkshake :)


Your blog is too beautiful, congrats!

doggybloggy said...

they call these 'chapulin' in Mexico...I have never had them but I would - wierd food wednesdays huh?

KennyT said...

OMG, Phyllis, I love Wednesdays now, u know why? hahahahaha

Jenn said...

I was close to eating one, one time. Chicken out. This was in the Philippines. I know it's a delicacy, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Wednesdays are fun again.

Eileen said...

How come our crickets were petite and cute, and yours were HUGE and SCARY? &_&

I LOVE your Weird Food Wednesday post! Can't wait to see what you are eating next Wednesday!!! ^^

Chow and Chatter said...

i love this section on your blog you are so brave

Anonymous said...

I do love to read your Weird food wednesdays! Though I am very adventurous, I am not sure I am quite ready for crickets :) Is it something you would only eat once to try or did you like it enough to eat again if you have a chance?

Tangled Noodle said...

I think that if I tell myself that these are just land-shrimp, I could handle them! And if I had a choice between these and sago worms, I'll take the bucket of bugs, please. 8-)

WFW are baaaaack! 8-D

Phyllis said...

Heavenly Housewife: Will send some crickets your way to go with that milkshake :p

Mononoke Kitchen: Thanks so much!! :)

doggybloggy: I see you had a weird food Wednesday of your own with that gator hand - really creepy!

Kenny: you love to see me eat bugs? LOL

Jenn: you can do it! they're not that bad when you close your eyes.

Eileen: funny, I didn't notice that your crickets were either petite or cute! :) I just did major closeups for dramatic effect.

Chow and Chatter: I'm not brave, just Chinese. Hubby Kris is the brave one - he was surprisingly enthusiastic about trying them (this from a boy who just had his first sashimi a couple months ago)

5 Star Foodie: The taste was really quite mild, nothing extraordinary so I probably wouldn't order them again the same way. I would like to try them deep fried or in a taco someday.

Tangled Noodle: You can have the bucket of crickets, I'll take the sago worm over them anyday!

Justin said...

very bold...

Cookin' Canuck said...

Wow, I will have to look for this the next time I'm at Vij's.

Phyllis said...

Justin: not so bad once you got past the wings and the hairy legs.

Cookin' Canuck: I think they're always on the menu, please let me know what you think!

Anonymous said...

Sssshhhheeeee's BACK!!! Weird Wednesdays is back! Yahoo!

I've tried them before in a lollipop. Definitely not the same. There's a restaurant in DC that serves them along with other pretty authentic fixings, which at first is surprising, because its a white linen type of place. I could never get anyone I was with to try them, and I had the impression they would not like it if I ordered, but I definitely intend to give it ago at some point, in a dish a bit more authentic than candy.


Thank you for visiting!
What you said about the already cleaned and packaged food is also true for so many people everywhere. There are children who frankly believe that chicken live and grow on the supermarket shelves...

Heavenly Housewife said...

Hey Phyllis :) Thanks for your lovely comments, I love reading them. Hey u know whats cool, I thought I was the only one who liked white chocolate better than regular chocolate. There is one I particularly like which has the tiniest hint of lemon in it. Its totally divine. I should totally mail you some!
We have so much in common. I think we may be two Cartmans separated at birth, but I think I might be more "big boneded" than u! Well I guess I would be really thin too if I ate crickets. U didn't even wash it down with a milk shake did u?
Super happy u r back (even if you do have cricket breath). :D

Phyllis said...

Oysterculture: well, you know who to call next time you need a buddy to share crickets with! And if you ever want to experiment with dishes at home, I'm investigating a source where you can buy bulk crickets fit for human consumption. I'll post the details once I've confirmed that they are safe for cooking and eating.

Mononoke Kitchen: hello again! Yes I think it's sad that most people think that meat comes from a grocery store these days, I think we would be a lot more responsible with how we eat and how we treat animals if we were more aware of how food actually gets to our dinner table.

Heavenly Housewife: LOL, it's not hard to be more bigboned than I if by bigboned you mean taller - I'm barely 5'3". And you must look super fabulous to be seated in the inner circle at the Wolseley! Now contrast that celebrity treatment with my cricket experience at Vij's - I don't think it was deliberate, but we were seated at the darkest dimmest table in the restaurant, behind a giant slab, a blogger's worst nightmare. Every other table had natural light but ours!

But thank you for thinking that I'm thin, you've totally made my day, I guess I do a good job of hiding the 'muffin top'! And no milkshakes required to eat crickets, that would drown out the true flavor of the cricket and why would I want to do that?! :)

gastroanthropologist said...

I consider myself an adventurous eater but I don't think I could eat crickets..though maybe I could. I do quite enjoy roasted silk worm - a Korean treat!

Phyllis said...

Gastroanthropologist: thanks for your comment! Silkworm - that's a good one for Weird Food Wednesdays! I've seen cans of silkworm pupa at my local Asian market and wasn't sure what to do with it. They look pretty tasty roasted though.