Edible Insect Recipes: Mealworm Crispy Crumbs
Feb. 3, 2019
May contain affiliate links.
When I was a kid my parents used to get fried fish from a fast food chain, and I'd race to be the first to get to the bag, not because I cared about the fish, but to scrape all the crunchy crispy battered bits scattered among the bottom of the bag. It turns out I'm not alone in loving these bits of battered dough—rumor has it that, while it's not on the menu, you can order a side of Crispies at any Long John Silvers in the United States. These battered mealworms remind me of my favorite part of those meals. If you have trouble getting the batter to stick to the little guys and end with a lot of fried wormless crispies, don't worry; it'll taste just as good. Not only is fried batter universally delicious, but this batter has extra ento flavor in it, thanks to the addition of sal de cricket, or sal de gusano (whichever is your preferred insect salt). This recipe was inspired by Crispy Mealworm Straws by Gastrobug.
Total: 20 mins; Serves 4
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sal de gusano, homemade, or Merci Mercado, or cricket salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or more, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup mealworms
- 1-2 quarts canola oil
1. If you are using ready-to-eat mealworms such as Entomo Farms Bug Bistro Mealworms, skip to step 2; all you have to do is open the bag. If you are using frozen mealworms, follow provider instructions on the package. If you have raised your own mealworms, you will need to euthanize them in the freezer a day ahead of time, then boil for 3-5 minutes to kill any parasites, and drain. The easiest way to boil something tiny, like mealworms, is to bring water in a small pot to a rolling boil, then place mealworms in a fine mesh stainless steel strainer, and lower into boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Then, all you need to do it lift the strainer out of the boiling water, and rinse the mealworms, still in the strainer, with cool water, then spread out to dry.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Set aside. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, insect salt, salt, pepper) and set aside.
3. Toss the damp mealworms in the spiced flour mixture and roll them around, making sure they're covered but not clumpy. Pick out the mealworms with a slotted spoon or fork, shake off excess flour, and submerge them in the buttermilk-egg wash, soaking completely. Stir gently to make sure they are completely smothered, then recover the mealworms with a slotted spoon. Toss the soaked mealworms back in the spiced flour mixture and roll them around, making sure they are completely coated, but not sticking together. This may take up to 30 seconds.
4. Pour 1 to 2 quarts of canola oil into a large pot or wok, and heat to 375°F/190°C. This will take a few minutes. When the oil is ready, put a small batch of the mealworms in something that will make them easy to recover, like a large slotted spoon, or fine mesh strainer spoon, and lower into the oil. Fry for about 1 minute, or until crispy and golden. Remove from oil and put on paper towel, patting off excess oil. Repeat until mealworms are all fried.
5. Toss some extra salt and pepper on while they're still hot. Serve as a snack on their own, or use as a garnish anywhere you would otherwise add fried onion straws.
This entomophagy recipe is included in Bugs for Beginners, a cookbook which teaches Westerners how to prepare edible insects and safely eat a bug. Text may include affiliate links
I'm Mic. I love reading about, writing about, thinking about, photographing, and especially eating, food. Especially bug food. Enough talk, let's eat!