Japanese grasshoppers! (I&W launch party – part 3 of 7)

Our third post from the Insects & Wine launch party is about Japanese grasshoppers, which are sold in many parts of Japan, not only in rural areas but also in Tokyo and in some major supermarkets. In case you’re reading this and might be in a Japanese supermarket sometime soon, here’s the label to look for:

A jar containing sweet-soy-simmered grasshoppers, as sold in Japan

Grasshoppers are collected from agricultural fields in Japan (albeit hindered by increased pesticide use) – and in fact, grasshoppers are thought to be the most commonly consumed insect worldwide!

And, importantly, they’re also delicious, as Liana explains below…

Insect #5 : Japanese grasshoppers by Liana

Japanese sweet-soy simmered grasshoppers

Locust heads are good, but – as I (re)discovered during last week’s tasting – Japanese grasshoppers cooked in soy sauce and mirin are wonderful. They’ve got an unctuous, caramelly sweetness that’s punctuated by explosions of umami – a bit like posh childhood candies with a grown-up edge. The first wine I tried – Fuchs and Hase Pet Nat Volume 4* – worked OK with them. It smacked of damp earth and soggy leaves and helped to ground the sweetness of the grasshoppers, but didn’t really draw anything out of them. I thought insect and wine were best consumed one after the other rather than together.

The La Raia Gavi 2015, on the other hand, went very well with the grasshoppers (as it did many other critters). Its flintiness and acidity cut through the grasshoppers’ syrupiness and left a lingering nutty taste in the mouth. The third wine I picked up – Arndofer Grüner Veltiner Die Liedenschaft – also got a big fat ‘YES’ on my sheet. (I think this was the point at which scrupulous note-taking dissolved into general dopey pleasure.) This one was gentler than the Gavi – think nicely behaved young fruits (or whatever the technical term for that is) – and worked to enhance the treacliness of the grasshoppers.

Grasshoppers served with Gavi, as recommended by Liana

Although the grasshoppers we used for this tasting were purchased by a  friend in Japan, I’ve been taught how to cook grasshoppers before using a similar recipe – so, as with the crickets, I’ll share that in an upcoming post!

* For an introduction to Pet Nat, read this post from Anthroenology. Fuchs and Hase doesn’t have its own page that I can find, so we linked to one of the two wineries involved in making it. The other is Arndorfer, who is linked to later in this post.

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