‘Bug Bites,’ a new cooking show devoted to insects, will teach you how to make fried tarantula


In case your standby recipes are getting a little stale, a new show dedicated to cooking with bugs will introduce you to a few you likely haven’t tried.

On Monday, Smithsonian Earth launched its first-ever cooking show, Bug Bites, devoted to the world of insect recipes, including cricket cookies, tarantula tempura and scorpion lobster frittata — among other creepy-crawly specialties.

Hosted by biologist Haley Chamberlain Nelson, the web series follows lessons from chefs like Omar Rodriguez and author David George Gordon, whose culinary track records includes a number of cockroach, water bug and centipede cookbooks, as they introduce Nelson to bug-infused recipes.

Nelson said the experience of cooking her first spider was challenging. “The mental hurdle of preparing something that needs to have its hair singed off and fluid-filled abdomen removed was the toughest part,” she said in an email. “Even sitting on the counter, they looked so alive that it made one of our cameramen jump back. But once it was battered and fried, I could have eaten a plate of them.”

Bug Bites also explores the history behind insect consumption and how it’s a common practice overseas — more than 2 billion people eat insects regularly, and by 2050, insects may be a key food in sustaining a growing global population.

And in case you aren’t convinced bugs are the new kale, know that they have nutritional benefits too. Crickets, for instance, have at least as much protein as beef and even more calcium than milk. And scorpions can be a good source of fat, energy and minerals — though they aren’t always visually appealing.

“Cooking with scorpions isn’t for the faint of heart,” Nelson says during the fifth episode, in which she and chef Joseph Yoon sauté the eight-legged arachnids. “But that doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious.”

The six-episode, short-form web series is streaming now on Smithsonian Channel and Smithsonian Earth.