Friday, November 22, 2019

[Food] Beondegi (번데기, Silkworm Pupa)


[Food] Beondegi (번데기, Silkworm cocoon/Pupa)

Beondegi (번데기, Silkworm cocoon/pupa)

In the 1970s, a massive industrial development began in Korea to tackle poverty and to build a better country without poverty. According to 'The Five-Year Economic Plan' of the Korean government at that time, silkworm farming for production and exportation of fine quality silk was active and popular in South Korea. However, there was one problem: it produced so many leftover silkworm pupa after the cocoon silk was reeled off. Korean silkworm farmers struggled to find a method of making profit from the cocoon, and they started to cook and eat it as a nutritious snack.

A can of beondegi (silkworm pupa)
In contrast to how different it looks, it has a very savory taste and pops in your mouth. It tastes like baby prawn. Moreover, contrary to what you may imagine about its production method, it is a very hygienic ingredient. Silkworms are nurtured in a clean environment designed for optimal growth. It is steamed, which means it goes through a sterilization process. Silkworm is such a weak insect that it can be killed simply by growing tobacco near mulberry trees (silkworm's diet). So silkworms are cared for and raised like babies.

Silkworm pupa simmered in an iron plate by a street vendor
Street vendors put pupa into a paper cup with toothpick usually for take-out.
One surprising fact about beondegi is that it consists of 60% water, 20% protein (amino acids), 10% fat (Oleic and linoleic acid) and 10% of various minerals. The conclusion? Silkworm pupa is very nutritious and easily digested for everyone.

Stir-fried beondegi with sliced garlic

It may look disgusting to some, but it's still great food!
According to the press, silkworm pupa is one of the best insect foods with a future and many cooks have been recently studying better recipes. If one is not familiar with insect foods, I think beondegi is one of the easiest insect foods that people can try.

If you are looking for exotic and nutritious food in Korea, how about tasting a cup of beondegi? :) You might think 'it's really great'.

Bon Appétit!

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