This is not a joke. The nutty flavour and satisfying crunch of these edible insects – crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms – pair perfectly with the salad of thinly sliced button mushrooms and the olive oil and lime dressing.
OK, it may seem a little weird. However, eating edible insects is becoming more generally accepted. No more is it something you do during those off-the-beaten-track South East Asian experiences. Have you tried deep-fried tarantulas in Cambodia? Here the bugs are combined with a mushroom carpaccio – a raw mushroom salad.
Edible mealworms and edible grasshoppers are high in protein, healthy fats, iron and calcium, and are low in carbohydrates. And they taste good – quite a nutty flavour. But most importantly, as a source of protein, eating insects is significantly better for the environment than eating beef. To produce 1 kg of insect protein requires 1 litre of water. To produce 1 kg of protein from beef requires 22,000 litres of water. And then there is the land usage and pollution issues to consider.
Eating insects is quite common in South East Asia. I have fond memories of eating deep-fried coconut grubs in Myanmar (like an explosion of peanut butter in your mouth). And then there are the Highway 4 restaurants in Hanoi. Their Crickets roasted w/Lemon Leaves & Pork Fat is one of my favourites. BTW, their Catfish Spring Rolls are also wonderful and inspired this recipe.
If you have Netflix, watch a documentary called bugs where “A willing team of chefs and researchers goes on a gastronomic adventure around the globe to weigh the benefits of using bugs as a future food source.” This New Yorker article is a good read if you want to dig deeper.
This Insect Mixture, though, is being produced in New Zealand – perhaps not so surprising for a country that is so passionate about Marmite and hosts a Wildfoods Festival. The company producing this product, Eat Crawlers, have a great web site with lots of useful information. Note they also sell chocolate-coated tarantulas and scorpion lollipops.
Mushroom salad with edible insects
- 300 g white and/or brown button mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil use the best you can get
- 1 Tbsp truffle oil or an extra Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Grated zest of 1 lime
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup parsley finely diced
- 15 g dried insects see text
- Wash and dry the mushrooms, and trim off the stalks (keep for a stock)
- Slice the mushrooms very finely. Ideally use a mandoline set on its finest setting.
- Whisk together the olive oil, truffle oil, lime juice, lime zest, mustard, crushed garlic, balsamic, and pepper.
- Add the insects to the mushrooms, pour over the dressing, and toss gently.
- Allow to sit for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
- Top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.