I went in to one of my favorite Asian markets on the hunt for balut, only to find out that the Department of Agriculture and Markets recently told them they could not sell it anymore. Sad, but my hunt will continue. While expressing my dismay and commiserating, one of the staff, who has pointed me in the right direction in the past, asked me if I had ever tried ant eggs. Well of course I had not tried ant eggs! People eat those?

IMG_20130611_094630_820

I spent a lot of time at the store talking about options on how to cook them. The traditional choices are either  larb or in an omelette. I didn’t have all the fixings for larb so I decided I would give them a go in eggs, after trying some on their own of course. One of the instructions was to be sure to rinse them before serving. Since they were frozen, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and run them under cold water for a bit while I prepped my other ingredients.

IMG_20130611_095606_684

It was then that I started to realize exactly what I had signed up for. You could clearly see the different stages of growth within my batch of eggs. Visually I’m not sure if the different stages made it better or worse. I was expecting a package of snowy white maggot things and instead got a blend of snowy white maggot things, brown almost fully developed ants, and off white partially formed ants. This was going to be rough.

 

IMG_20130611_095143_038

 

I was planning on just popping a couple of thawed ones in my mouth but the package said cook before eating, so I wasn’t going to risk it. I heated up some olive oil in a pan, while I selected a couple of samples in different stages of development.

IMG_20130611_095242_244

 I tossed these two prime candidates into a hot pan to let them heat through. I wasn’t sure how to tell when they were done.

IMG_20130611_095435_043

As it turned out I was notified of their completion by the mostly-developed one popping and blowing apart. Time to eat. I grabbed the more developed one first. Despite every fiber of my body trying to convince me that I should not be eating these, I persevered and popped it into my mouth. I almost didn’t get it down, but once I steeled myself to proceed, I was met with a slightly nutty, toasted flavor and a decent crunch. Not much in the way of flavor, but not bad. The egg was next.  My brain and my body were really fighting me on this one– I almost couldn’t do it. I’m not grossed out by much, but I have a strong revulsion for maggots so eating one was just anathema for me. Finally pulled myself together, put it in my mouth and bit down. As I fought my mental reaction I really tried to focus on the taste and texture. The texture was odd but pleasant, similar to eating salmon roe.  It resisted my initial bite but once it burst there was pleasant bitterness and a bit of a crunch. After that I wasn’t sure why I was going to go through with the “eggs and eggs” dish, but I had committed.

IMG_20130611_100018_373

I added a solid spoonful of ant eggs to my chicken egg, sauteed garlic, and fish sauce. I scrambled them up, and in a minute or two they were ready to eat. Again I knew they were done by the eggs popping and leaping up in the air from the pan. I do love food with a built-in timer.

IMG_20130611_100321_431

 I was hoping that the ant eggs would be encased in chicken egg so there would be less visual evidence of what I was eating but that was not meant to be. I added a squirt of fresh lime and a touch of Sriracha on the side and dug in. Mixed in with all of these flavors, the ant eggs were really just a textural element. I did bite through one and got the same squirt of bitterness, but it was very muted. I even finished my plate.

All in all, I’d say that if you have the chance to try them in a traditional dish, go Try It. I don’t think i’m going to keep them in stock in my freezer but I wouldn’t be afraid to try them again if they were served to me. For me it was a completely mental aversion, and once I got myself past it, I could see why they are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, just not ours.

The following two tabs change content below.

2 Responses

  1. marisa carney

    Hi,just seen your article can you tell me of where can i buy ant eggs please
    Thank you
    Marisa

    Reply
    • Songee B

      Hi Marisa,

      The best place to find red aunt eggs is at a Thai Grocery store in the frozen section. Hope you can find some and give them a try!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Current day month ye@r *