Through the hands of Vietnamese chefs, the insects with ‘creepy’ looks like stink bugs, grasshoppers, ant eggs, coconut worms and bee larvae become unforgettable delicacies in Vietnam.
Steamed glutinous rice with ant eggs
Not all kinds of ant eggs are edible. It must be eggs of black ants that build nest on the tree. The ant egg season begins from March of the lunar calendar and this period lasts over a month.
Processing ant eggs is very sophisticated. These tiny eggs are cleaned gently with warm water and mixed with seasonings, dried onion and fried with fat until the eggs spread the nice aroma.
The eggs are then put on a banana leaf so the nice smell of eggs is mixed with the smell of the leaf. This dish goes with steamed sticky rice.
Stink bugs roasted with lemon leaves
For people in rural or mountainous areas, stink bugs are the material to make delicacies. It is believed that stink bugs live on essences of plants, so they are very nutritious.
To remove odors, bugs are soaked in brine for several hours and then it is boiled with water and sour bamboo shoots until the water is gone.
The bug tails are removed to reject the pungent smell. The bugs are roasted with lemon leaves, with high heat until their color turns into light brown to have a crispy, sweet and fleshy dish.
Cicadas, scorpions and grasshoppers can be also processed the same way but their tastes are different from each others. Silkworm pupae roasted with lime leaves is also a delicious dish.
Crispy white crickets
White crickets are as fat as prawns, fresh as crab meat, delicious and nutritious. It is believed that eating white crickets can cure many diseases such as rheumatism and obesity.
White crickets are roasted in hot oil, together with chopped bacon and lemon leaves.
Bee larvae contain a lot of vitamins, proteins, minerals, sugars and amino acids. People in several northern mountainous provinces of Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang and Cao Bang process bee larvae into many dishes with various spices like shallots, fresh ginger and chopped lime leaves. Eating hot bee larvae, you’ll feel a fragrant, soft and succulent tastes.
For many, it is fearful to see coconut worms which are as big as fingers wiggling. But with people in the southwestern region of Vietnam, they are the gift of nature, a specialty that is not always available.
In the southwestern region, coconut worms are most in Ben Tre, which is the home to vast forests of coconuts. Though they are harmful for coconuts, they are the raw material for processing many aromatic, fatty and delicious cuisines.
Every year, in the rainy season, may-bugs begin hollowing out coconut trees to lay eggs inside. When the eggs are hatched into larvae, the larvae begin to eat the coconut trees. When coconut trees are waned, it is also the time the coconut larvae are very fat. As such, people just cut down the coconut trees to collect worms.
The easy-processing and being the most popular dish, fresh worms served with chili sauce.
The living worms are dropped into a bowl of alcohol. After the worms emit contaminants, they are washed and put into a bowl of chili fish sauce. The living worms are fat and fleshy, which feels no different from egg yolk.
Coconut worms are also processed into other cuisines like fried butter worms, fried worms served with herbs, etc. But the most unique cuisine is coconut worms with sticky rice. Coconut worms are steamed on the sticky rice pot. When the steamed glutinous rice is done to a turn, the worms are also done. Sticky rice and coconut works are severed together, making a very special flavor.
Besides coconut worms, the southwestern people also have two other kinds of worms, which are quite rare – worms from dung dinh trees and worms from palm trees. According to their experience, worms from dung dinh trees are the best for gruel and the other kind is the best for grilling.
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