Dế Roasted Crickets – 94 of 365

Cricket Wrapped in Herbs

Instead of a 7 year old refusing to eat a single green bean and a chunk of well done steak, here we have a grown man afraid of a bowl of crickets.  Yes, you have read that correctly.  Crickets.  Small black crunchy crickets.   The same crickets that make nighttime noise in the swamp.  Where’s mom when you need her to coax and threaten us into some food consumption or else there will be no dessert, playing outside or tv.

My friends Thuy and Evelyn joined me at Highway 4 restaurant in District 3 to lend moral support to my first foray into adventure eating.  This eatery has a normal selection of course and we feasted nicely on chicken in passion fruit sauce, calamari and tofu with salty egg.   Our main draw, however, was that one column on the menu listing all the more exotic choices, i.e. the bowl of crickets now staring at us.

Now I am not one to normally say a prayer of thanks before a meal, but I will admit I now found myself praying for strength to ingest these grilled critters.  Actually it was more a stall tactic than anything and this pseudoprayer to no one really in particular killed about 20 seconds.  Perhaps the Vietnamese diaspora in America offers a similar time buying prayer at McDonald’s to summon proper strength and fortification prior to ingesting a chicken McNugget.  Surely all that factory processing has left their normally beloved bone, gristle, fat and internal organs an unidentifiable smooth paste later injection molded into a disk with the same appeal to them as a cricket to me.

A Big Bowl of Crickets

Evelyn joked the crickets are likely rich in calcium, vitamins and of course protein.   Yes, it’s a GNC vitamin shop in a bowl.  Two shots of fruit brandy provided the liquid courage my food prayer had left lacking, and next thing I knew a repulsive specimen hovered between my two chopsticks.   The waiter rushed over with a fork and knife just in case the chopsticks might go wobbly, and while I appreciate this display of customer service, I highly doubt silverware could make this experience any more palatable.

In my foodhole the cricket went and a few crunches later it descended right on down the hatch without any sort of regurgitation or gag reflex.  And you know what?  It was good.  It was actually good enough that Evelyn and Thuy joined in and we devoured an entire bowl.   We even discovered the mint and coriander leaves add a little depth to this creature normally considered a pest, and a quick swipe through the chicken’s mango sauce even lends a gourmet edge.

Wow.  Crickets.  Who would have ever known??!!  I mean, don’t stores sell cricket poison and roach motels to eradicate this sort of nonsense from our immediate surroundings?  And now we are eating them?  We nicknamed the evening Monday Madness and plans were laid for Part II the following week for a new food find just as strange and off the trail as a bowl of roasted crickets.

Oh yeah…I almost forgot.  I know what you are wondering right now.  They taste like shrimp.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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