Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cricket meatballs

A while back Martin and I bought a bag of cricket flour: farmed crickets that have been freeze-dried and ground to powder.  We were keen to try cooking with crickets as they have lower carbon emissions than most other meat.*  However, we rapidly ran into problems.  There are zillions of recipes for using cricket powder to boost the protein content of snack foods, but very very few for using it to make actual meals.
* I wasn't able to find data on their emissions as such; however crickets have negligible direct emissions and eat the same food as chickens (which also have negligible direct emissions).  Crickets have a feed conversion rate of 1.7 (for chickens it's around 3.3) and crickets are 16% protein (source).  Crunching those numbers with our existing carbon emissions number for chicken (3.9kg CO2e /kg), and noting that my cricket powder is 60% protein, I estimate carbon emissions of 7.5kg CO2e/kg cricket powder.  Which sounds worse than the chicken until you remember that chicken is 25-30% protein (with most of the rest being water) while the cricket powder is double that.  So the emissions per gram of protein are about the same as chicken, but much better than any red meat.
We did find one that we liked (shitaake mushroom and cricket meatballs), which we did with both an Italian-style and a sweet and sour sauce. That inspired us to try our own meatball recipe.  We've done it a few times now and really like it :-)


Ingredients

meatballs
1 cup cricket powder
2 eggs
2 T water
1 onion, finely chopped

half cup dry bread crumbs
2 tsp chopped fresh herbs
2 T tomato sauce

oil for frying

sauce
2 small onions, quartered
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1 1/2 T Chinese rice vinegar or Apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1/2 cup waterand
2 tsp cornstarch

sesame seeds and green onions (chopped) for garnish, optional

Method
  1. Mix cricket flour with egg and water to make a thick paste.  Leave to stand in fridge a few hours (without this step the meatballs are dusty).
  2. Mix remaining meatball ingredients into the paste.
  3. Form into teaspoon sized balls, heat oil, fry 10-15 minutes until golden. Set aside.
  4. Fry the onion (may need more oil) then add all the remaining ingredients and cook until thickened.  Add the meatballs, stir to coat well and serve on rice, scattered with sesame seeds and green onions and accompanied by a dark green leafy vegetable.
Yum!

The sauce recipe is from here; the meatballs are the Edmonds meatball recipe, adjusted so it has the same amount of protein as the original but gets that from crickets and eggs rather than beef mince.

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