Saturday, February 28, 2009
Delicious, Nutty, Buttery Silk Worm Pupae At Bangkok Market In The Hawthorne Eco Village!
A few days ago, I was browsing some of the frozen foods at Bangkok Market in the Hawthorne Eco Village, and I saw an item I had never seen before: frozen silk worm pupae. Of course, it was packaged under a delightful euphemism: "ground cucumber."
Silk worm pupae have been a popular food item in the Orient for thousands of years. When the cocoon of the silk moth caterpillar is harvested for textile production, the pupae are a byproduct. But this byproduct can be deep fried or stir fried. Based on the appearance of what was in the package, I immediately realized...
the "ground cucumber" was silk worm pupae.
I asked the owner of the store about preparation and whether you eat the whole thing, or just parts of it. He told me to deep fry the pupae, and to eat the whole thing: just dip 'em in sauce and pop 'em in your mouth, like popcorn. I told him I didn't have a deep fryer and, besides, I wasn't confident of my ability to prepare the pupae properly. Could I pay him to cook these up for me at the deli? He agreed and only charged me two dollars. My special-order pupae came in a little container, with a side of hot sauce.
First of all, silkworm pupae don't have a lot of taste. Maybe a subtle nutty, buttery flavor that's pleasant, even delicious in an understated way but mostly they're just crunchy, with a soft yellow center the consistency and color of herb butter. (That's the undeveloped insect inside the crunchy pupae shell) The dish is not repulsive--that's all in your head--but it's more like a snack food than an entree. A whole plate full of pupae hardly fills you up. I had some sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf to round out the meal.
Some other things in the store I'd like to try include apple snails and whole frogs. Some cultures just eat the frog legs, but I'm told there is a lot of useful meat on the rest of the frog.
My thanks to the Bangkok Market for giving me the opportunity to sample a dish that is, from my point of view, quite exotic.