David George Gordon, aka “The Bug Chef,” doesn’t eat bugs every day. And bugs aren’t his only source of protein. But, for. more than 20 years, he’s traveled the country giving cooking demonstrations and convincing people to eat crickets and cockroaches and other insects and arachnids. Here, he shares a few of his recipes, including one—his personal favorite—for the Deep-Fried Tarantula he shared on “The Late Late Show” with James Corden in 2015.
Need some inspiration? Check out the links below to videos featuring Gordon preparing bugs at the famed Explorers Club gala in New York City as well as his appearance on “The Late Late Show.”
Orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, gets its name from the Italian word for barley, but we all know that orzo looks exactly like juvenile bugs. Needless to say, it’s a perfect complement for crickets, especially four- or five-week-old nymphs, which are of a comparable size. At this stage in life the young crickets lack wings and ovipositors, the chitinous tubes through which the adult females pass their eggs. Their limbs are skinny, so there’s no need to remove them before cooking. Likewise for the antennae, which, at less than a quarter of an inch, should pose no obstacle to enjoying this meal.
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup orzo
½ cup grated carrot
¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
¼ cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup frozen four- or five-week-old cricket nymphs, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Bring the broth to a boil, then stir in the orzo. Continue boiling the orzo until it is tender, about 10 minutes; drain any extra liquid, then quickly add the carrot and red and green peppers. Mix evenly and set aside. In a separate skillet, melt the butter and add the minced garlic, onion, and crickets. Sauté briefly until the onions are translucent and the garlic and crickets have browned. Combine the cricket mixture, including any liquid, with the orzo and vegetables, top with the parsley, and serve.
Yield: 6 servings
For the marinade:
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, thyme and tarragon
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
For the skewers:
12 frozen katydids, grasshoppers, or other large-bodied Orthoptera, thawed
1 red bell pepper, cut into 11/2-inch chunks
1 small yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a nonreactive baking dish. Add the katydids, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
When ready to cook, remove the katydids from the marinade and pat dry. Assemble the kabobs by alternately skewering the insects, bell pepper and onion wedges to create a visually interesting lineup.
Brush the grill lightly with olive oil. Cook the kabobs 2 or 3 inches above the fire, turning them every 2 or 3 minutes and basting them with additional olive oil as required. The exact cooking time will vary, depending on your grill and the type of insects used. However, the kabobs should cook for no longer than 8 or 9 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 frozen adult Texas brown, Chilean rose, or similar-sized tarantulas, thawed
1 cup tempura batter (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
In a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 350 degrees.
With a sharp knife, sever and discard the abdomens from the two tarantulas. Singe off any of the spider’s body hairs with a crème brûlée torch or butane cigarette lighter.
Dip each spider into the tempura batter to thoroughly coat. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to make sure each spider is spread-eagled (so to speak) and not clumped together before dropping it into the hot oil.
Deep-fry the spiders, one at a time, until the batter is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove each spider from the oil and place it on paper towels to drain.
Use a sharp knife to cut each spider in two lengthwise. Sprinkle with the paprika and serve. Encourage your guests to try the legs first and, if still hungry, to nibble on the meat-filled mesothorax, avoiding the spider’s paired fangs, which are tucked away in the head region.
Yield: 4 servings
1 medium egg
½ cup cold water
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
To make the batter, beat the egg in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add the cold water, continuing to beat until evenly mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and beat gently until combined; the batter should be a bit lumpy. Let the batter sit at room temperature while heating the oil.
Three Bee Salad
½ cup (about 40) frozen adult bees
½ cup (about 60) frozen bee pupae
½ cup (about 60) frozen bee larvae
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 ounce bee pollen granules
Lettuce for serving
Nasturtium petals or other edible flowers for serving
Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the adult honeybees and return to boil for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bees from the water. Pat dry with paper towels and allow to cool.
To the same water, add the honeybee pupae. Repeat the procedure for cooking the adult bees, also allowing the pupae to cool. Repeat the same process with the honeybee larvae.
In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked adult bees, followed by the pupae, then the larvae.
Immediately before serving, add the bee pollen granules, stirring the mixture to ensure that the granules are evenly distributed.
Serve on a bed of lettuce, decorated with the nasturtium petals.
Yield: 4 servings
On the web
Watch actress Anna Faris eat bugs with the Bug Chef and actor Tituss Burgess on “The Late Late Show” with James Corden in 2015.
Watch Lisa Ling try waxworm cookies with David George Gordon on “The View” while Jerry Springer and Joy Behar look on.
Watch Zagat’s video featuring David George Gordon cooking at the Explorers Club’s gala in New York City in 2015.
Watch Nicole Kidman eat a four-course meal of bugs for Vanity Fair’s Secret Talent Theatre.
Read the FAO’s entire 2013 report on edible insects. (PDF)