Why wait for the collapse of civilization to enjoy this unique blend of flavors?

While far from the coldest places in the world temperature-wise, major urban areas of Japan like Tokyo and Osaka experience a certain dankness to their winters that still manages to cut right to the bone. Our reporter Seiji Nakazawa is especially sensitive to this, and needed something with both the warmth and nutrition to get him through it.

Luckily, we have been in contact with just the person to help. She goes by the handle Rakkoara, and is just your average thirty-something white-collar worker and part-time survivalist blogger. Rokkoara has promised us a very special hotpot that is both healthy and delicious… and a little horrifying as well.

Her ingredients are as follows:

Mealworms: they have “meal” right in the name.
How could you not use them?


Ant eggs (salted)

Lethocerus deyrollei, a giant water bug that goes by the name tagame in Japanese and came precooked for today’s meal. These should not be confused with cockroaches although when it comes to eating them the difference really seems negligible.

Nevertheless, Rakkoara assures us actual cockroaches in this recipe would taste awful in comparison.

Since it was winter, insects were a little hard to come by, but luckily a local Asian foods shop was able to provide some of the ingredients, and a pet store’s reptile food section could fill in the gaps.

Cooking is relatively easy. First, this hotpot requires making the broth from scratch and that’s where the mealworms and crickets come in. This step involved putting the insects into the boiling water alive, while still in a suspended state from low temperatures.

Seiji was no stranger to squashing bugs that invaded his home, and yet this still struck him as rather savage. “Circle of life,” he told himself while promising that he would not make their sacrifice in vain by eating them all.

Once they were thoroughly boiled, the insects were removed from the soup and vegetables were put inside the pot. For this brief moment, it looked like a normal hotpot.

But nothing lasts forever, and it was time to put the insects back in.

This time Rakkoara also added the tagame of which the previous picture didn’t really give a sense of scale. Now you can see them in all their meaty glory.

Finally, the ant eggs were added to complete the dish. Strangely, if Seiji closed his eyes he would say that this smelled delicious. It had a distinctly Asian aroma and was only unappetizing to the eyes… but really unappetizing to the eyes.

Seiji cautiously eyed his bowl for signs of life. This actually wasn’t the first time he’d dined on bugs, but those were fried and seasoned. These boiled insects were soaked in their own natural flavor for the full bug-eating experience.

Seiji decided to jump in with both feet and stuffed the giant water bug in his mouth first. Rakkoara had told him that normally people peel off the exo-skeleton and just eat the inside part. However, he wanted to look cool in front of the survivalist and just put the whole thing in his mouth like it was no big deal.

The outer part of the water bug was quite hard, even more so than a shrimp shell. He wanted to spit it out but across the table, but Rakkoara was happily gnawing on her crunchy water bug and he didn’t want to lose face.

After biting into it, a thick stream warm fluid squirted out of its abdomen and back into the bowl. The rest filled his mouth, and yet as putridly disgusting as that sounds, it actually tasted rather good. Seiji still had to struggle with the shell though and make it look like no big deal to his dining companion.

It was all downhill from there. Perhaps the most shocking thing about this insect hotpot was how good it tasted. The ant eggs had a bubbly texture similar to shirako. Granted, that’s the Japanese name for fish semen, but here it’s a rather normal food.

The mealworms were oddly similar to edamame and Seiji couldn’t really think of anything to compare the crickets to, but they had a somewhat bold and salty taste that went really well with the citrusy Japanese sauce, ponzu.

Fulfilling his debt to the crickets, Seiji and Rakkoara finished the entire pot and also let the rest of the staff try some.

Once again, as far as taste goes there was nothing wrong with the insect hotpot as prepared by our friend. In fact, it was actually quite nice tasting as long as you can get yourself over that mental hurdle of eating bugs. That being said, it probably would have been fine without the giant water bugs.

Seiji was happy that he was on the cutting edge of what many are saying will become the next global food trend, and the best part of all was that he had his secret ingredient for the next Dark Nabe Party all figured out.

If you’d like to learn more about Rakkoara’s survivalism you can check out her blog

Photos: SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]