Salsa Chapulines

Grasshoppers in a salsa? Yes, Salsa Chapulines contains grasshoppers, but before you say no to this dish, these insects are actually a very tasty addition to this delicious roasted salsa.

Grasshoppers in Spanish are called “chapulines,” which is derived from the Nahuatl word “chapolin,” referring to grasshoppers as rubber balls. In many parts of Mexico they are a delicacy and their taste can be compared to that of dried shrimp with a bit of smokiness. They can also be sold in different flavors with salt, lime, or garlic.

Chapulines are rich in protein and also contain high levels of Vitamin B, iron, and have almost no fat. I recommend reading Rafael Bracho’s article if you want to learn more about these fascinating insect snacks.

Here’s a couple suggestions I have for preparing the chapulines. First, remove the legs and wings, so they are not as crunchy. Also these insects can sometimes contain parasites if they are not prepared correctly. Make sure they are roasted (without burning them) to get rid of the parasites.

I was very excited to find chapulines during my latest visit to San Diego at one my favorite new stores Casa y Cocina. After purchasing a jar I was inspired to incorporate them into a salsa.

I decided to use the chapulines with a salsa that was mainly comprised of chile cascabels. This was the first time I had used cascabels in a salsa, but I have always been intrigued by their unique shape. Cascabels are in the shape of ball (hence why they are also called chile bola), but they better known for their rattle or bell sound as they typically contain loose seeds inside that create a similar noise. The chiles are not that hot and have a smokey flavor to them.

The combination of the cascabels with the chapulines and grilled tomatoes, pasilla, garlic, and onion made this a tasty roasted salsa. I made this dish as part of a salsa bar I created for my relatives’ Thanksgiving party. It was very exciting to see my family members enjoy Salsa Chapulines, even some of my younger cousins who I had to bribe to try the salsa.

1 tbsp chapulines
6 cascabel peppers
4 roma tomatoes, roasted
1 pasilla, roasted
2 garlic cloves, roasted
¼ white onion
2/3 cup chile water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
¼ tsp hoja santa

Boil the cascabel peppers in water for ten minutes over the stove. Once they are done boiling, remove their stems (seeds are optional) and then transfer the chiles to blender. Do NOT discard all the water when completed. Add 2/3 cup of the chile water to the blender as well.

Roast the tomatoes, pasilla (stem removed), garlic, and onions for 5 minutes on a comal until moderately dark on all sides. Place in blender when finished and then purée for one minute.

Next, prepare the chapulines starting by removing the wings and legs. Then heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is warm add the chapulines and cook for about five minutes (or until brown and crispy). When they have finished cooking transfer the chapulines to a paper towel, removing the oil. Finally, add them to the blender as well as the remaining spices. Purée for one minute before serving.

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