It’s been just over a month since the first nymphs hatched, and I’ve harvested just over 300 fledglings – there a a few hundred left (at different stages, from second instar to fledgling) and I’ll keep about fifty locusts as breeding stock for the next generation.
These guys developed much faster than the first generation, and I believe it was due to the crowding in the tank. What I’ve read states that crowding promotes breeding, but it also seems to speed up the life cycle and encourage cannibalism. The nymphs are most vulnerable in their final moult, when their wings emerge, and despite food being readily available, I’ve observed younger nymphs attacking and eating the new fledglings. A reduction in population (harvesting fledglings) has curbed this behaviour, and I’ve discovered the optimum capacity for my tank sits at around three hundred locusts.
I haven’t started a mealworm colony as yet as we’re moving house in Jan/Feb – we’ll wait until we’re settled in our new place. Until then, we have lots of experimental recipes to get through.
My wife and I invited our friend Anuska over for tea this week (she knew exactly what she was in for). The menu: Tempura Locusts and Vermicelli Salad.
- 60 frozen locusts (20 per person) back legs and wings removed
- tempura mix
- 1 small telegraph cucumber, julienne (or chopped into matchsticks)
- two nests of rice vermicelli (soaked in hot water, then chopped so the noodles aren’t too long)
- 1 small carrot, julienne (or chopped into matchsticks)
- 1/2 cup snow pea shoots
- 1 medium bok choy, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce (or make your own using 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons dried chill flakes and a 1/4 cup white vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
For the salad, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix up the dressing separately and pour over just prior to serving.
For the locusts, turn on your deep fryer and set to about 180 degrees celsius – if you don’t have a fryer, heat oil in a saucepan on the stove (you’ll need a wire basket or deep slotted spoon to fry the locusts).
Mix up your tempura batter according to the instructions on the pack (you can make your own batter, but I really like the mix I get from my local asian grocer). Add your locusts and mix gently – they defrost very quickly and become limp (and easily squished).
Spoon the locusts, one at a time, into the deep fryer and fry for two to four minutes – they bob to the surface almost straight away.
Lightly salt to taste and serve with your choice of dipping sauce. I went with mayonnaise and a chilli sauce.
They taste really good, very similar to fried chips, although the locust flavour gets lost a little.Underneath the crispy batter they are a deep red – similar to the way lobster change colour when they’re cooked.