Recipe for "nam prik dtor dtua" wasp larvae & roasted chilli dip
This is another edible insects post from my time in Bun Rueng, North Thailand
This time we're chomping into giant hornet larvae – the obese, immature wriggling babies of the black & orange wasp that lives in hives high in the treetops of this area.
These wasp larvae are called "dua dtor", and look a bit like Australian witchetty grubs or New Zealand huhu grubs.
Similarly, they're eaten raw, or tossed in a wok until crispy and fried salt and pepper style.
Having eaten all three, I can safely say that huhu grubs and witchetty grubs would be great for making this dip.
The raw one is an OK taste.
Apart from getting your head around the 'fat white grub' aspect, they actually taste and feel a bit like bland mashed potato. Like mashed potato, dipping in a little salt is a great move if you want to liven up the taste.
The Vietnamese 'holy trinity' of salt, pepper and lime juice would be ideal.
With a little salt, and roasted dry chilli flakes, they're also fine to eat 'as is'.
I wasn't so impressed with them raw, – they were OK – but not amazing.
When made into a Northern style 'nam prik' dip with charcoal roasted chillies, it's a fine taste and texture.
This would stand alone amongst other better known dips like babaganoush, guacamole and hummus.
The flame-roasted chillies, above
I was wondering about the nasty black nest, and why nobody ends up covered in excruciating killer wasp stings.
These aerial predators have a powerful sting that can kill you, so it pays not to piss them off.
The secret is in getting a long stick with a fire on the end of it and semi-burning the wasp nest.
If I was a giant hornet, I'd take great exception to this, but it seems to work for the gatherers.
The wasps who escape the fire dissipate, and the burnt nest gets pulled down with any remaining wasps dead.
I have no idea why they don't do an aerial pincer movement and swarm the nest-hunter but it seems to work.
The wasps who are out hunting come back to a nasty surprise of finding their house not only burned down – but also stolen. And wasps don't have house and contents insurance.
Imagine their mood.
For a piece of giant wasp nest the size of two cigarette packets, it costs around 40 baht, or around $1.20.
Here's the wasp larvae dip recipe
This is the hornets nest with a dead hornet in the front from the foraging process.
- Giant hornet larvae or wasp larvae – raw
- Large Thai chillies
- Skewer the chillies whole and roast the wasp larvae over gas flames or charcoal until the skins blister and blacken
- Crush them in a mortar and pestle with a little salt
- Add in the hornet or wasp larvae
- Pound or crush them to a paste / dip consistency
- Season to taste with more salt and a pinch of sugar
Serve with sticky rice.
Roll the sticky rice into balls, dip it into the nam prik – and thats it.
Delicious actually, like a smoky eggplant dip. the flavour is very mild, and the toasted chillies shine through.
It's like a smoky roasted chilli babaganoush without the tahina, garlic and oil. It's also very nutritious and quite healthy.
The adult wasps have a sobering sting on them.
They're normally pretty docile creatures that don't come after you unless you provoke them.
They're quite good natured – which is a wonderful thing because a sting from one off these can kill you, if you are unlucky, old, an infant, or have any health issues.
A sting in the throat or any sensitive areas can be a major drama – giant wasps are big, venomous and have powerful stingers. If you want to eat this dish but have a nervous disposition – best to get them from the market.