Fried Cicadas–Let’s Get Cooking, China

An old adage is that the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart is through his or her stomach, so it’s probably a good idea for all of us to know at least a few tasty dishes.

However, most of my Chinese students don’t get a chance to get near a kitchen since they are supposed to be studying all the time, but it would be good for them to know how to cook at least a few dishes.  With that in mind, one of the last assignments of the summer school term was for each of my students to bring in a recipe to be shared.  In class, students were to tell why the dish is important or meaningful. It might be a special dish from the student’s hometown, what the student’s grandmother always prepares, or something the student knows how to cook.

I wanted to encourage the students to increase their skills (and for Barry and me to get Chinese cooking instructions).

Something you may not have considered as edible are cicadas.

The other students moaned when Crystal presented these recipe ideas, so it is likely none of us will actually try them.

However, Crystal’s recipes can be something new for you to consider.

Green cicada- photo from

Crystal says that cicadas can be cooked in a large stir-frying pan in a way similar to popcorn.  She says the taste is similar to the “crispy edges of the egg white of a fried egg.”  They take on the flavor of the sauce you use.

One popular way to prepare cicadas is to saute them in butter with crushed garlic and basil.

Before you start your cooking, however, she says you need to remove all the hard parts: wings, legs and head. These parts don’t contain much of the meat and may be very sharp, so it’s best to get rid of them.

Cicadas can also be dry-roasted on a stick like a marshmallow or a sish-kakob over a fire.

Cicadas cooked on a stick - photo from

Other “popular” cicada recipes include cicada stir-fry and cicada dumplings.

Fried cicadas - photo from

Deep fried cicadas taste best when eaten with hot mustard, cocktail sauce, or lobster sauce.

Cicadas can also be roasted, which tends to give them a “nutty”, or almondlike, flavor.

Crystal got her recipes from

She recommends collecting the cicadas early in the morning when the dew is still on the ground and the cicadas are still drowsy.

Cicadas- photo from

Crystal suggests recipes using cicadas

Crystal is from the town of Lishui, (which means “beautiful water”) in the southwest of Zhejiang Province.  She is a cheerful student, now a ZAFU sophomore, who likes to play ping pong and dreams of coming to America.

Now when I hear the chirping of summer cicadas, I think of Crystal and her recipes.

Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée



About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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