Wasp crackers, also called Jibachi Senbei, are a Japanese snack similar to senbei rice crackers but filled with digger wasps. Other ingredients include water, eggs, sugar, salt, oil, sesame seeds and soy sauce.
Old wasp hunters (most of them in their 80s) set traps near the neighboring countryside to capture the wasps. They are then added to the boiling water. Once boiled, they are then dried and combined with the rice cracker mixture. The blend is then stamped in a hot iron cracker cutter. These crackers can be found at local markets or only at some specific gourmet stores. It’s certainly one of the most unusual delicacies in the world.
Wasp crackers are mildly sweet in taste and with slight savory notes. As far as the taste of the wasps, they have the flavor and texture of burnt raisins and have a bitter and acidic touch.
As per certain sources, wasps comprise the maximum percentage of protein of any edible insect, and 81% to be precise.
Origin & Cultural Significance
The invention of wasp crackers purportedly happened in Omachi, Japan by the members of a fan club known as Omachi Jibachi Aikokai. It is further known that this Digger Wasp lover group (Jibachi Aikokai) has collaborated with a local biscuit producer to make a special digger wasp rice cracker (now known as Jibachi Senbei).
The wasps that are used to prepare these crackers (Vespula flaviceps or Kurosuzume bachi) are believed to be farmed in only some specific areas of central Japan. They are especially meant for human consumption. The larvae of these wasps are particularly recommended to be consumed with rice.
However, the president of the Omachi digger wasp lover’s club, Torao Kayatsu, once mentioned “Young people see the bugs and refuse to eat the senbei. But seniors, they love them. We even have an order from a nursing home.”