The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

What does a cicada taste like?

Sauteed cicadasI easily gathered eight cicadas while going about my morning chores on Thursday, and I popped them all into the freezer so they would perish quickly and then be ready for a lunch taste test.  You can eat cicadas raw, but I needed all the help I could get to overcome the "I'm eating a bug" factor, so I sauteed them in a bit of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper for about ten minutes until the exoskeletons were pretty crunchy.  Then I served the wildcrafted treat up, four cicadas per plate.

I couldn't talk Mark into eating a single one --- he said he might try a cicada another time if I removed the wings.  Adding the insects to a stir fry (and not telling the recipients) New adult cicadamight be another good way of tricking non-believers into taste-testing cicadas.  And, to be honest, I had to look in the other direction while popping the bits of invertebrate flesh into my mouth, a bit like what I do when I get a shot.  (If I can't see it, the scary thing isn't there and I can focus on my real senses.)

So, what do cicadas taste like?  Actually, when I could ignore the fact that I was eating an insect, they were delicious.  Keep in mind that I taste-tested what's known in culinary circles as "soft-shelled cicadas" --- youngsters who have just popped out of their nymphal skins and haven't yet hardened up their exoskeletons.

I didn't detect the almond or pistachio flavor reported on the internet.  Instead, the texture (and flavor, actually) was like the flesh from the one lobster tail I've tasted, but without that faint hint of fishiness, and with a little crunch when my teeth hit the wings.  (I really liked the cicadas wings-on and don't recommend removing the appendages.)  Since there are several species of periodic cicadas, I wouldn't be at all surprised if each one tastes a little different.

Cooked cicadasOn a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give these sauteed cicadas a 9.  In addition to tasting good, the insects also really agreed with me --- as I started writing this post, my mouth watered and I snuck one of the cicadas I'm saving into my mouth for a snack.  On the other hand, it probably would have taken all day to gather enough cicadas to serve as the protein source for a whole meal, so I'll just keep snagging the delicacies as I pass them by.

Which is all a long way of saying --- I recommend them!  If you've got cicadas crawling up out of the ground, now's a perfect time to see if you like them as much as I do.

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock well hydrated on hot summer days.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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yum. I've also had tasty toasted grasshopper snacks in both Mexico and Spain.
Comment by joey Sun May 6 08:53:58 2012
The only bugs I have purposely eatten were ants. And that was as a child. They were peppery flavord.
Comment by mona Sun May 6 09:17:37 2012
Feeding people bugs without their consent is a very bad idea, IMO.
Comment by Roland_Smith Sun May 6 11:05:18 2012
Ever fiber of me wants to scream "EEEWWWWW!" That is one BIG ugly bug. But then I remember that I have also chomped a few tasty invertebrates:P Citrus Ants in Wyoming, fried crickets and mealworms at an exibit at a museum in Oxford, UK. Personally I like the crickets, and when my husband kept some as pets (cause they sing so pretty) he told me not to even THINK of eating them! LOL The cicadas though can stay on the trees :D
Comment by MamaHomesteader Sun May 6 12:15:41 2012

I have had "Inago-no-tsukudanii" here in Japan. Grasshoppers/immature locust that are boiled in a heavy mirin sauce. We eat it over rice, and it is great if you don't know/remember that it's bug. Crunchy.

Comment by Eric in Japan Sun May 6 17:43:55 2012

Joey --- Interesting! Maybe you'll have some cooking advice when you come over to try out our new porch. I'll try to remember to put some in the freezer for us to cook up together. :-)

Mona --- I feel like the ants I've eaten were lemony. But I'm not quite sure if that's true or if I'm just remembering the overwhelming scent the one time I caught a bunch of them swarming during a queen's mating flight.

Roland --- Don't worry --- I wouldn't slip cicadas to a vegetarian on the sly. I was thinking more along the lines of someone who agreed in theory that they wanted to try bugs, but were scared in practice. A bit like the way my driver's ed teacher got me in the car and, after about fifteen minutes, asked if I wanted to know when my driving test started. When I said yes, he responded that I'd just finished. :-)

MamaHomesteader --- I'll bet the cicada is a lot like a cricket, but I could be wrong.... Pretty funny that your husband had to warn you off his pet crickets. :-)

Eric --- I was hoping you would chime in! I'd heard that, in Asia, some insects are considered quite tasty.

Comment by anna Sun May 6 20:06:26 2012
Well, to the best of my knowledge the only insect I've ever eaten was one of those invasive stink bugs . . . and it was quite nasty (as well as being unintentional - it was thirsty and I wasn't paying attention to what might be in my water bottle, heh); I could still taste the stench hours later. However, if I were ever at someone's house and they served me up cooked insects, I would definitely try them; otherwise, how will I know if I like them or not! :)
Comment by Ikwig Sun May 6 21:55:43 2012

Ikwig --- What, you never inhaled a gnat while working outside in the summer? They seem to like buzzing around my face and flying in my mouth when I'm out of breath. They're quite sweet... :-)

Sounds like you're the epitome of a good guest.

Comment by anna Mon May 7 09:28:33 2012

I'm down for trying just about anything, but I think the only way I could eat a bug is if it were breaded, deep-fried, and covered in hot sauce!

~ Mitsy

Comment by mountainstead [] Mon May 7 16:29:44 2012
Mitsy --- I don't think the hot sauce would be an inducement to me... :-)
Comment by anna Tue May 8 07:18:57 2012

In addition to about a half dozen other types of peppers, we really want to grow the Ghost Chili/Bhut Jolokia variety! I can't imagine life without Tabasco, lol.

~ Mitsy

Comment by mountainstead [] Tue May 8 12:43:55 2012
I'd vastly prefer eating cicadas to scarily hot peppers. :-)
Comment by anna Tue May 8 16:25:50 2012

I are bundaegi in South Korea - roasted silkworms stewing in a cauldron on the roadside -- sold in paper cups and eaten with a toothpick ...

I cringe at the memory -- they were vile.

Comment by J Tue May 8 20:09:53 2012
J --- I guess you won't be trying cicadas anytime soon. (Although, for all I know, silkworms could taste as different from cicadas as crab does from trout.)
Comment by anna Wed May 9 14:14:37 2012
Oh man! How did I miss this! Awesome! I have always wanted to try a juicy bug of some sort cooked the way I saw on a documentary once. They scoop the bugs (teensy ones, but it would work bigger)and moosh them into patties, like burgers and then grill them up. I think that insect patties with onions and worchestershire, some black pepper and thyme might be very tasty. Very nutritious and a seriously renewable resource!
Comment by jen Fri Jul 20 21:28:33 2012
Jen --- I'm glad I ate some of them since it turned out they did a number on my fruit trees when egg-laying time hit. Since the chickens got so many of them, though, I figured we came out even.
Comment by anna Sat Jul 21 20:04:12 2012

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