• Crispy Wok-Tossed Cicadas


Everyone’s favorite brood just popped out of the ground.

Hordes of Brood II cicadas are emerging from their subterranean home this spring along the East Coast. Although many species of cicadas emerge each year in the United States, this brood of cicadas is the offspring of those last seen in 1996, now popping out as soil temperatures reach a sustained 64 degrees after maturing underground for 17 years. With billions expected to fill the skies, you can expect a deafening symphony of cicada calls and a plethora to collect for cooking. If chowing on bugs is something you have been aching to try, here is a perfect way to enjoy these little airborne critters.

Crispy Wok-Tossed Cicadas


  • 2 cups cicadas
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 hot dried Asian chile
  • 4 tablespoons minced lemongrass
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Toban Djan (fermented bean paste with chiles)
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine (or sake)


Collect roughly 2 cups of cicadas, keep them in a bucket (with a lid) with an inch of water inside. Wet wings means they won’t fly off! Dry on a towel, pluck wings and legs, and set aside.

Preheat a large wok over high heat. Add the peanut oil, and swirl.

Add the minced ginger, hot dried Asian chile (tsin-tsin work great), minced lemongrass, chopped scallions, minced garlic, sugar, Toban Djan (fermented bean paste with chiles, Lee Kum Kee brand is fine) and toss for 15 seconds. Add the cicadas. If you can’t find fermented bean paste, use a few tablepoons of Chinese dried salted black beans instead.

Toss for one minute to cook. Add the minced celery, toss. Mix the soy sauce, corn starch and rice wine together in a separate bowl, then add the mixture to the wok. Toss, cooking for another minute or so until sauce tightens. Enjoy.

Want to learn more? Listen to my cicada and bug cooking tips on NPR’s How To Do Everything

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