Have you ever tried to eat an insect? Fried insects in Thailand are popular Thai street food snacks. Insects are low in calories, high in protein and extremely nutritious. Thailand insect food on offer includes fried crickets, Thai worms, fried scorpion, fried grasshoppers and other different fried bugs found in Thailand.
Thailand Insect Food
If you would like to try them, you can easily find fried insects sold as Thai street food snacks by numerous vendors on the street, especially at touristy places. Your adventure trip would not be complete without trying Thailand insect food!
Fried Bamboo Worms (Rot Duan)
Bamboo Worms are called Rot Duan (หนอนไม้ไผ่ หรือ รถด่วน) or express train in Thai, due to their shape. They eat bamboo pulp in a bamboo tube. These worms can be found in the North of Thailand during the rainy season. It is the most basic snack for the start of eating Thai fried insects and you can easily find them at almost every street food vendor selling insects in the country. The taste and texture of these fried Thai worms is like of a small crunchy corn puff snack with a bit of saltiness.
Fried Silkworms (Nhon Mhai)
Silkworms known as Nhon Mhai (หนอนไม้ หรือ ดักแด้) are our favourite Thailand insect food.
These Thailand fried insects is a popular snack for locals. Silkworms come from a range of families, but they are all from the butterflies. They have a soft shell that is crispy after frying it. The taste of this fried Thai warm is a bit like tofu but creamy and has a taste of herbs because they are usually fried with kaffir leaves. Fried silkworms are perfect to eat with soy sauce and pepper.
Fried Grasshoppers (Tak Ka Tan)
Grasshoppers or Tak Ka Tan (ตั๊กแตน) are healthy and a valuable source of protein and calcium. Each grasshopper measures about 5-6 cm in length. Fried grasshoppers taste a bit like a crunchy shrimp. You need to pick off the legs before eating them.
Fried Crickets (Jing Reed)
Crickets or Jing Reed (จิ้งหรีด) are a delicacy in the Northeast of Thailand. They are very close to grasshoppers, and indeed, even look like them, but fried crickets taste very different. These Thai fried insects are crunchy and have a unique taste like a popcorn and nut.
Fried Giant Water Bugs (Maeng Da)
This is by far the largest Thailand insect that we've eaten as a snack. Giant Water Bugs or Maeng Da (แมงดา) are large (about 8 cm long) winged insects. They live in the rice fields and are eaten in the Northeast region of Thailand. In Thai cooking, Giant Water Bugs are mainly used for "Nam Prik Maeng Da" recipe, which is a super-hot chilli paste. These Thailand fried bugs are also served as a snack. They are quite difficult to eat as you have to discard the pincers and wings. These fried bugs have strong smell with a salty and creamy taste. Some say that they are similar to caviar.
Fried Scorpion (Maeng Pawng)
Scorpion or Maeng Pawng (แมงป่อง) has a poisonous sting but you can eat them whole as long as the scorpions are cooked. In the northeast area of Thailand, fried scorpion is considered to be a tasty snack. The taste of fried scorpions is described as being similar to raw shrimp.
We've listed the most popular fried insects in Thailand. However, you can try the others such as Molecriket (Maeng Kra Chon), and Cockchafer (Maeng Eee Noon) as well. They are commonly sold together.
How they cook fried insects in Thailand?
Before frying, all insects must be washed thoroughly about 3 times to remove the smell. Then they are left to drain.
Frying insects is like frying something else. Just heat the pan to the medium heat and then add vegetable oil. When the oil starts boiling, put the insects into the pan to fry till they get crispy and golden yellow.
How to eat Thai fried insects?
Normally, fried insects in Thailand are served with some white pepper and soy sauce. Many people love to eat it as a snack with beer.
Where to buy fried insects in Thailand?
As fried insects in Thailand are more popular nowadays, you can buy them in many places. Locals still like to buy them from street food vendors. You can also find the Thailand insect food being sold at various shops such as 7/11 and other supermarkets. In addition, touristy places such as Khao San Road, Patpong and Soi Cowboy are a good place to find them.
How much Thai fried insects cost?
Thailand insect food should cost about 20-30 THB per ladle.
Even if fried insects are delicious for some Thai people and foreigners, there are still some precautions about eating fried insects:
- Some sellers may use low quality oil and repeatedly reuse the same oil again. It will not be good for your health.
- Insects have chitin that helps to reduce cholesterol level in the body, but if they are fried in oil, they absorb a lot of oil and are filled with fat.
- Chitin and chitosan might be good as we mentioned above, but if you will eat too many insects, it can cause calcium deficiency and may interfere with the absorption of fat and vitamins such as vitamin A and E.
- Who should not eat fried insects or should not eat too many insects?
- Allergic people with asthma may be allergic to the components of insects.
- People with bone problems and pregnant women, because the chitin and chitosan can make calcium absorption worse. It may damage the bone or cause abnormal growth of the fetus.
- People with a risk of being obese, because fried insects are rich of fat from the oil.
- People with renal disease, because the ingredients used to add the flavour have high sodium.