Can’t Beat the Beetle

When it comes to eating insects, I’m primarily a cricket and mealworm kind of woman. They’re packed with protein and they’re easy to find in the United States. Best of all – at least for those of us just dipping our toes into entomophagy – they’re manageable. They can be eaten in just a bite or two.

Ah, but research for this nonfiction project requires that I try insects that are more exotic, more unusual, and bigger. So, I ordered a package of June Beetles from Thailand Unique – and, boy are they BIG.

Worldwide, beetles are the most commonly eaten insects. June Beetles (scientific name Melolonthinae) are part of the scarab beetle family. They have heavy black bodies that measure up more than inch (25mm) in length. They’re often eaten with their heads and wings removed. June beetles contain over 56 percent protein and have very low fat content.

You can snack on these bad boys like they’re super crunch potato chips. More often, though people add them to soups or pasta dishes. They’re often stir-fried with vegetables or tossed into a salad. Or, because of their visual impact, they sometimes served atop a tart or other pastry.

On this, my first June Beetle encounter, I decided to whip up an hors d’oeuvre. I added a few drops of hot sauce to cream cheese and piped that mixture onto rice crackers. I topped each cracker with a big, shiny, imposing beetle.

At first sight, my taste testers were a little intimidated by the enormity of the task at hand. They bravely ate on, noting that the crunchiness of the beetle paired nicely with the cream cheese and delicate crackers. The beetle didn’t have an overpowering flavor, but it was a little salty – likely seasoning added during processing.

I’m not sure I’ll rush out and order many more of these beetles. For now, U.S. farmers are prohibited from raising them, so they do have to be ordered from outside the country. I am glad, however, to have tasted them.

Now, bring on the next bug!