Eating insects is common in many places. They are typically high in protein and easy to find. While they might seem like a more taboo food choice, they are a more common cuisine than you think. In fact, many of us eat cockroach parts without even knowing it.
People around the world eat insects on a regular basis. And cockroaches are no exception. Cockroaches are farmed as an inexpensive protein source and can be found in stirfries, boiled, and deep-fried. Milk from cockroaches is a nutritious and difficult to harvest substance they feed their young.
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Do People Eat Roaches?
While it may feel like an adventurous cuisine, cockroaches are commonly eaten in many countries. A lot of it may be unintentional, as there are things like dyes that can contain cockroaches, but many cultures eat cockroaches because they enjoy it.
In many parts of the world, cockroaches and other insects are very common to eat. Even if some view bugs as gross, they are part of cultural cuisines in other regions.
Where Do People Eat Roaches?
So now that we know people eat cockroaches, where is this happening?
Cockroaches are eaten in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, and the United States.
In China, large-scale cockroach farming happens. There is even a cockroach farm that holds a billion cockroaches at once.
They breed cockroaches for several reasons. Medicine is a huge part of their breeding, but some of the output is for consumption. Mainly, it’s for animal feed, but people eat these bred cockroaches, too.
They are bred in clean environments, which contrasts the typical idea of cockroaches.
Cockroach breeding is the livelihood of many people who work on these farms. The cockroach industry is lucrative.
Other countries eat bugs, too, and likely include cockroaches, but there is not a lot of information and data released on specifics.
What Do Roaches Taste Like?
If you’re thinking about tasting cockroaches, it’s nice to know how the flavor is.
“Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have a taste and texture like greasy chicken”, according to Girl Meets Bug.
How Do People Eat Roaches?
There are a lot of ways to eat cockroaches. Many creative recipes for bugs exist online. There is also cockroach milk, which comes from a species of cockroach.
There are several online retailers that sell cockroaches. It is ill-advised to eat cockroaches from your home. There are a lot of substances they may have come into contact with that will harm you to ingest.
Cockroach milk is a substance made by a specific species of cockroach (Diploptera punctata) that feeds its young.
It has a lengthy farming process that includes killing the cockroaches and their embryos to harvest the “milk”.
While cockroach milk looks promising due to its high protein and amino-acid content, it is not something we can mass produce.
5 Methods of Preparation: Cockroach Recipes
Always remember you must cook cockroaches before eating them to kill any bacteria. Once you consider this, you have all the choices in the world.
You can swap out the protein for cockroaches in many recipes, especially if they include a crunchy topping, like a salad. Or you can add cockroaches to a recipe.
1. Fried Cockroaches
Probably one of the simplest ways to eat cockroaches is by frying them like you would anything else.
- First, ensure the cockroaches are dead. You can do this by sealing cockroaches in a plastic bag or container and putting it in the freezer. If you bought cockroaches specifically for eating and they say they came dead, you do not need to worry about this step.
- Once you know they are dead, you can prepare them for cooking. Wash the cockroaches and optionally remove the wings and legs.
- Heat your pan with some oil or butter and once it is ready, fry the roaches until they are crispy.
See this recipe for Cockroach a la King.
2. Boiled Cockroaches
Similar to how you can boil chicken or beef, you can boil cockroaches. Boiling your cockroaches will kill bacteria and ensure they are dead, too.
3. Stir Fry
Ensure your cockroaches are dead and clean before cooking with them.
4. Beer Made With Cockroach Juice
Breweries in Japan make a unique type of beer made with the juice of boiled Taiwanese male cockroaches. Known as Konchu Sour (Insect Sour) it is made with the traditional Japanese process called kabutokama.
Here’s what the sour flavor in beer is like.
Taiwanese male cockroaches are also used for seasoning certain soups and salads.
Nutrition Information: Cockroaches
Cockroaches contain a lot of minerals and nutrients.
The prominent nutrients in their make-up are as follows:
- Calcium: 468mg/100g
- Magnesium: 362mg/100g
- Iron: 274mg/100g
- Potassium: 242mg/100g
Cockroach milk is high in protein but, as mentioned above, is not easily mass-produced for consumption. It may be pricey.
One study found cockroaches have a high carbohydrate make-up.
Another study points to a high amount of protein in Dubia Cockroaches.
Below we have listed a few more fun facts about cockroach consumption.
Accidental Cockroack Consumption
If you have eaten chocolate or drank coffee, you have likely injected cockroaches before. The FDA allows a standard amount of cockroach parts in food, and it is not zero pieces of cockroach.
Here’s their current guidelines.
a. The chocolate in six (6) 100 gram subsamples contains an average of 60 or more
insect fragments per 100 grams.
b. Any one subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments, even if the overall
average of all the subsamples is less than 60.
Worry not. While it may feel gross to think about, it will not threaten your health.
There are also other bugs you may eat, such as the insects used to make certain red dyes.
Cockroaches are Hardy
Cockroaches have been around for a long time and have the survival skills to show for it.
They can live without a head for several days. The insects can hold their breath for nearly an hour.
They can even live a month without food. These are some of the reasons cockroach infestations are hard to take care of.
Roaches can handle extreme temperatures – both hot and cold.
Risks of Eating Cockroaches
It’s important that you don’t eat cockroaches you find around your house or yard. It is impossible to know what they have been exposed to or what they’ve eaten.
A commonly quoted example of the risks of eating roaches occurred at a reptile store in Florida.
“The consumption of insects is widely accepted throughout the world, and the insects presented as part of the contest were taken from an inventory of insects that are safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment as food for reptiles.” Luke Lirot, the lawyer representing the reptile store, Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach.
If you are an adventurous eater, cockroaches might be the perfect thing to put on the menu next. Hopefully, these recipes give you inspiration for your next venture.
If you are on the fence about trying cockroaches, there are other insects you can try like crickets or ants that are a bit tamer. There is even scorpion candy you can try.
Enjoy your culinary exploration!
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer at The Buginator. And is working to make it the best resource for taking back the outdoors from biting, stinging pests.
He also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Storyteller Tech. Bryan is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company he runs with his wife, Dena.