Fried Insects for a Healthy Snack in Laos
One seasonal specialty in Laos is edible insects. Travelers to the country may encounter restaurants serving insect dishes such as steamed fish amok with crickets, grasshoppers with lemongrass, bamboo worms with friend vegetables or noodles with silkworm pupae.
During the rainy months, Laotian farmers hunt for edible insects in their fields and forests. These can include crickets, weaver ant larvae and many kinds of beetles. Laos is rated highest in the world for the percentage of people who regularly consume insects. Lao villagers have a rich body of knowledge on traditional harvesting methods and collection timing. These traditional skills, including how to prepare and cook the harvested insects, are imparted as family heritage from generation to generation.
Some edible insects, such as field and domestic crickets are now being successfully raised on family farms. Insects provide a nutritious source of protein, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. As a sustainable, organic food source, some international NGOs have proclaimed insect farming as a way to end chronic malnutrition in Laos.
In addition to providing a new source of income, farming insects requires way less energy and space than raising livestock and converts a unit of animal feed to food supply more efficiently for crickets than cattle. Most important, insects are saep laai laai or ‘delicious’ which alone is the best way to stimulate insect consumption and promote insect farming!
When traveling the scenic roads in Laos, visitors can notice the various ways of farming different insects. We always take time to stop and see these inventive methods.
Edible insects are commonly available in markets in Vientiane. As a snack food, insects are most commonly pan fried with seasonings and make a healthy snack to accompany a cold bottle of Beerlao.
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