Roasted Locusts

  by Josh Pollen.

Recipe development for our Pestival menu, by Josh Pollen – one half of Blanch & Shock and one third of London Research Kitchen

Schistocerca gregaria

Roasted grasshoppers are simple to make and eat, and also pretty accessible – many people have tried them already when traveling. We wanted to present this idea with the quite beautiful desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), an elegantly spotted creature of green and yellow and black, paired with an emulsion of common wood ants from the forest (Formica rufa) and wild garlic that was just coming into season.

Roasted desert locust

These are quite easy to make. We prefer to use the sub-adult (3rd) instar of the desert locust. Remove the legs and wings. Roast in an oven with butter and salt at 170˚c for 12 minutes, or until gently browned and crisp.

Wild garlic and ant emulsion

130g neutral oil, (grapeseed, sunflower etc.)
20g egg yolk
5g wood ants (Formica rufa)
52g wild garlic (ramson) leaves
10g water
0.75g salt

Blanch the wild garlic leaves in water, seasoned with 2.5% salt for 10 seconds. Shock in iced water and drain. Squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible, and freeze in a Pacojet container. Spin in the Pacojet. Pass the ground, frozen herb paste through a very fine screen, resulting in a stiff, smooth paste. Refrigerate.

Cook an egg for 45 minutes at 65C˚ (this step results in a more stable emulsion and the pasteurisation means it can be eaten by anyone who is unable to eat raw eggs). Cool in iced water, and remove the yolk. Using a tall beaker and an immersion blender, start the emulsion by blending the egg yolk with the water and salt. Add the herb paste and ants while blending, and then add the oil one third at a time until the preferred texture is achieved. Pass the emulsion through a very fine sieve or silk screen, removing the miniscule ant parts, and serve with the roasted desert locusts.