So we’re all on Mars. What are we going to do about protein in our diet? There are a few favorite options for solving this problem. Mushrooms will give you no trouble if you give them the right nutrient blend, a UV light and a dark corner to grow in. Chickens lay eggs, but watch it because they may learn how to fly in Martian gravity with all the obvious messes this will entail. Fish may be an efficient choice if you can get a good aquaponics system going. There’s even talk of taking insects along as a way to get your protein without a ton of problems.
Insects? Gross, right? Well, consider the fact that more than two billion people make insects a regular part of their diet. They’re cheap, packed with protein, and reproduce fast enough to make insect farming profitable in some parts of the world. Some kinds of insects can thrive on plant parts that would otherwise be considered waste. They’re so low-maintenance that people who can keep a goldfish alive should also be able to keep grasshoppers alive.
About the only problem I could see is that they might escape and make a nuisance out of themselves or, worse, get into the crops in your greenhouse. If you’ve ever seen what a swarm of locusts can do to a field of grain or even just lost some tomatoes that would have been gorgeous to hungry insects, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Seriously, though, I was just joking to a friend about how Martians might develop a zillion ways to make insects edible when we were talking about regional cuisine. Deep fried grasshoppers seems to be a favorite right here on Earth, and she told me that she tried chocolate-covered locusts one time. Insects could well be listed alongside dandelions as one of the staples of a typical Martian diet. We kid around about it now, but one society’s “Ewww, gross” is another society’s delicacy.
Go ahead, try some fricasseed grasshoppers on a stick next time you get a chance. They really aren’t all that bad. If you can catch enough of them for a meal in the fall, when they’re the most active in my area, I can honestly tell you that they make a decent stir-fry if you don’t mind pretending they’re shrimp.
Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers
Stir Fried Grasshoppers
There are a lot of varieties of this out on the Internet, but this is my favorite.
What You’ll Need:
As many grasshoppers as you can catch.
1 or 2 eggs, beaten OR some buttermilk
Bread crumbs (I like to run a few slices of bread through my food processor if I don’t have any in my pantry already)
Salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
Let the grasshoppers sit overnight in a jar. These guys are like shrimp; they’ll need to “devein” first. Boil them for about 10 minutes (it’s a lot like boiling miniature lobsters minus the feeling that you’re the chef in The Little Mermaid). While they’re boiling, shake up bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and chili powder in a large Ziploc bag and coat a large frying pan with oil. Remove the grasshoppers’ legs and wings and coat them in the egg or buttermilk. Then toss a few at a time in the Ziploc bag with the bread crumb mix and shake to coat. Transfer to the frying pan and stir-fry on medium-high heat. These are really good with ranch sauce and I like the little bit of zing that the chili powder give them.
Insects Make Good Candy, Too.
…At least, according to this candy maker who routinely includes insects as an ingredient. Next time you’re bopping around California, try some. You might be surprised.
Bacon Wrapped Grilled Grasshoppers
The original recipe calls for shrimp, but grasshoppers are almost as good.
What You’ll Need:
24 grasshoppers, as big as you can catch. Ignore the little juveniles. Trust me, you can’t get them too big.
2 jalapeño peppers, sliced into 24 thin strips
Monterey jack cheese, sliced into 24 thin strips
12 slices bacon
Boil the grasshoppers for 5-10 minutes. While those are going, cut each slice of bacon in half. Remove legs and wings, and then butterfly them like you’re doing butterflied shrimp. Top each one with thin slices of cheese and peppers. Wrap each one with half a slice the bacon and seal with a toothpick. Grill until the bacon is done.