If you are a foodie, you might be familiar with Oaxacan cuisine, one of the most celebrated regional cuisines in Mexico. And if you are an adventurous foodie, you might have already tried one of the most iconic dishes from Oaxaca, chapulines. These crunchy, roasted grasshoppers or locusts are a popular snack and a delicacy in Oaxaca.
What are Chapulines?
Chapulines are a type of grasshopper or locusts that belong to the family Acrididae. They are found in different regions of Mexico, but they are most commonly associated with Oaxaca. Chapulines are usually harvested in the wild during the rainy season, between June and October.
The size of the chapulines varies depending on the type of vegetation they feed on. The smallest and most common are those that feed on alfalfa, while those that feed on maize (milpa) can grow to be larger. Chapulines are an excellent source of protein and have been a part of the Mexican diet for centuries.
Chapulines can be prepared in several ways, but the most common method involves boiling them in salted water and then roasting or toasting them. Before cooking, they are usually left alive for a few days to "purge" them, which means that they are not fed anything, allowing them to empty their digestive tract.
Once they are cooked, chapulines are often seasoned with garlic and lemon mojo, which is a sauce made with garlic, lemon juice, and salt. They are typically served as a snack, but they can also be used as a topping for tacos, quesadillas, or other dishes.
In Oaxaca, chapulines are sold by measure and not by weight because they are incredibly lightweight. They are usually served with a chile pasilla sauce, which complements their nutty, earthy flavor.
Nutritional Value of Chapulines
As mentioned earlier, chapulines are an excellent source of protein. They are also low in fat and calories, making them a healthy snack option. According to some studies, chapulines contain high levels of essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.
Chapulines are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, and zinc. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells, while calcium is crucial for bone health. Zinc is important for the immune system and wound healing.
If you ever find yourself in Oaxaca, don't miss the chance to try chapulines, a unique and flavorful delicacy. And if you are not in Oaxaca, you might be able to find chapulines in Mexican specialty stores or online. Chapulines are a healthy and sustainable snack that has been a part of Mexican cuisine for centuries, and they are worth trying.