“Pupae can be used to make various dishes by roasting, grilling in bamboo shoots, stewing with salt and pepper, or soaking with egg powder and roasting,” said chef Van Hai from Tham Thang Restaurant in Lao Cai. “Yet the simplest and tastiest way is to stir-fry them in fat with lemon leaves.”
The pupae are poached in boiling water first, then left to dry. Chopped onion and garlic are fried in oil in a pan, and then the pupae are added with some fish sauce and pepper.
The cook should stir the mix very gently on a medium heat as the pupae are soft and break easily. When the pupae have turned yellow and smell good, the cook adds some lemon leaves, chilli and herbs and stirs for a little longer before serving.
Well-cooked pupae should keep their original form with a fragrant and fatty aroma. The dish can be eaten alone, with steamed rice, or with pancakes.
Bacon offers another twist to the dish, with the melted fat used to cook the pupae, and some people eat them in porridge or salad.