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Don't scream: These insects are delicious, fans say

Updated: 2016-07-12 08:02
By Cang Wei in Nanjing (China Daily)

In Jiangsu province, people with flashlights often spend summer evenings peering into the darkened branches of trees in search of a local specialty - cicadas.

The strange looking insects are a popular snack.

The cicadas, which develop quickly after hatching, are easy to catch. Su Zhen, a college student in Nanjing, said cicadas are a favorite of his relatives in Xuzhou city.

"Many of them catch cicadas to eat," Su said. "And some people even make a living from the insects."

Wang Jinxu, a restaurant executive in Nanjing, said cicadas are selling for about 50 yuan ($7.5) per kilogram lately.

"They're the most popular insects in summer," Wang said. "They are often fried to make them crispy. Many kinds of insects, such as ants, locusts, green worms and scorpions can be cooked and served to people."

According to Jia Pan, manager of the Xuzhou Specialty Restaurant in Nanjing's Gulou district, the largest market for cicadas is Yangxin county in Shandong province, famous for juicy pears.

"Pear trees are cicadas' preferred home," Jia said. "They are often caught between 7 and 9 pm because their wings and bodies grow quickly after the nymph stage." Mature ones don't taste as good, he said.

"It's interesting to hear people screaming when dishes made of insects are served," Jia said. "Some of my competitors tried to introduce insect dishes at their restaurants, but finally gave up because of the limited number of customers."

"Many people not only like the taste of cicadas but also believe that the insects contain high levels of protein and various trace elements that are beneficial to health."

He added that a kind of green worm, the doudan, is popular in Xuzhou. The worm is served after its skin is peeled. The white meat tastes, in his words, "more delicate than most food in the world".

Guo Jun and Han Qingyun contributed to this story.


Don't scream: These insects are delicious, fans say

Cicadas are considered a delicacy in many parts of China. Xie Zhengyi / For Chinadaily

(China Daily 07/12/2016 page4)

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