Ever had insects for lunch or dinner? In Yunnan, it's actually pretty popular to snack them deep fried. We admit, it must sound strange to a lot of people to eat animals which one preferably wants to only get rid of. But - the way they are cooked in Yunnan, not only makes the snack crunchy and crispy, but also lets the fishy smell go away. Still not convinced? Insects are full of proteins which helps strengthen your body. According to local people, an insect dish particularly goes well with schnaps. Below, some particulary popular insect dishes in Yunnan are listed. Most of them can be ordered in 'normal' restaurants as well as at typical barbecue stands.
In Dali, silkworms as a dish are easily found. In summer, this area is an ideal place for raising high quality silkworms. Right after the silk is removed from the worm by hot water, they are ready to be cooked or fried. In Kunming, they're not as easy to find as in Dali, usually only on bigger markets, for example in Majie, in western Kunming, where I live.
The Bamboo Worm
The Bamboo Worm is the most common dish to be found in restaurants and at barbecue stands. It actually looks quite similar to the bait that people use when they go fishing and which can be found at Kunming's Bird and Flower Market. You shouldn't mix that up. A restaurant where this dish can be ordered for example is the Zhu Li Guan (0871-65360866) right next to he Grand Park Hotel at Green Lake Park.
Grasshoppers or 'locusts' are usually living in rice fields. In the local folklore of Yunnan, people used to set up torches to expel locusts and to prevent them to damage the crops. There's even a Torch Festival to celebrate the triumph over the locusts every year in Shilin County. If you ever travel to Yuxi, Wenshan, Dali, Honghe or Xishuangbanna, you will most likely find locusts on the menu.
Ant eggs is a traditional and famous dish of the Dai ethnic minority, it is extremely delicious. They taste really good but are hard to get. The eatable ant eggs are laid by the Rhubarb Ant which usually live on trees. When the trees are climbed to collect the eggs, there's a tough challenge which has to be faced - ants bite. An old saying of the Dais says, "only the strong people can eat ant eggs."
A bee larva contains a lot of nutrition, it is still tender after they've been deep fried. In recent years, a kilogram's price of bee larvae is at about 400 RMB. Bee larvae are eaten in many Chinese provinces and in many dirfferent ways, like deep fried or steamed. In Yunnan, especially the deep fried bee larva with Dai flavor is recommended.