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Joys of Eating the Road Less Traveled at Sticky Rice

Joys of Eating the Road Less Traveled at Sticky Rice
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  • Joys of Eating the Road Less Traveled at Sticky Rice

    Post #1 - July 27th, 2005, 8:56 pm
    Post #1 - July 27th, 2005, 8:56 pm Post #1 - July 27th, 2005, 8:56 pm
    There are joys to eating solo. I can order what I want and not compromise. Not that I usually compromise, I simply respect my dining companions thus I decline to order what they may not like visually, by odor or psychologically driven ick-factor. Tonight dining solo and early at Sticky Rice, I could dive into the interesting fringes of the menu or the road less traveled.

    My meal began innocently with paw pía sòt : fresh spring rolls and Kaeng roti, or "curry with roti bread," which by themselves represented a decent light meal. Since I was light on reading material, I re-read Erik M’s translated menu line-by-line. There were items on there which I had been curious about the first time I read them, then forgot about them in the whirl of living life fully.

    Since this evening I was answering to no one but myself, I decided to satisfy my curiosity. To test the waters, I ordered jîing kêung thâwt (seasonal) : deep-fried insects (type unknown). I sucked in my breath and waited for the waiter to steer me away. He didn’t. He smiled and walked away to place my order with the kitchen. Maybe ten minutes later a plate of fried insects were presented to me.

    Image

    I knew I needed to behave well as my reaction may influence the waiter’s opinion of the next non-Thai who ordered these insects. I took one and with two bites was cheerfully chewing what may be a rather large grasshopper, though the body was heavier than our local critters the back legs certainly were intended for jumping. My friend Helen grew up in the Philippines reported how her youngest sister ate fried insects like peanuts. I could easily understand how these deep fried, crunchy insects could be a lovely snack. There were no discernible off flavors, just a pleasant toasty taste and crunch.

    My confidence bolstered by this dish, I next ordered rók deun : fried worms, which the take-out menu advises is deep fried bamboo caterpillars. Some minutes later I received a heaping plate of deep fried caterpillars. Those little black eyeballs staring back at you is a bit disconcerting, but I knew I needed to follow through with grace. I lifted a small group with my fork and bit in. Very much like the insect experience, this was more about texture than flavor. Around this time I decided to call my Dad to see if I should save any for him. He is quite proud his stepbrother in Mexico eats insects with pleasure. It seems to be more a conversation gambit because every time I offer Dad an opportunity to try insects, he demurs. Today his excuse was upgraded to how it may be adverse to his cholesterol. Since I had no takers, I finished the caterpillars myself.

    Image

    To round things off, I called over the waiter to order my final dish: khài jiaw khài mót : omelet with ant eggs. Thanks to other food explorers, I’ve already had ant eggs at least twice before, once at Spoon Thai and once at Nhu Hoa for a Laotian approach. I was also aware of the trilogy of off the beaten path foods, this was the least challenging as my recollections of ant eggs tasting neutral. Most of the flavor of the omelet came from ingredients mixed into the chicken eggs, rather than the ant eggs. I was really verging on full and ate half of the omelet to save face, the remainder I took home for another meal. Of the three vastly different preparations, I preferred Nhu Hoa’s the best.

    Image

    None of these dishes assaulted you with unusual or strong flavors. You simply had to suspend your knee-jerk reaction to withdraw from eating insects, worms and ant eggs. Will I challenge my non-curious friends to such a meal, no way. If they seek out my recommendations, I will offer it to them. I will not force the issue because that’s not a good way to treat a friend or an enemy. Fortunately, I have found like-minded individuals on this board and if they’re not available, then eat with pleasure all by myself.

    Bon Appetit!

    Sticky Rice
    4018 North Western Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60618
    773-588-0120

    Mon-Thu: 11:30 AM – 11 PM
    Fri-Sat: 11:30 AM – Midnight
    Sun: Noon – 10 PM
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #2 - July 27th, 2005, 8:59 pm
    Post #2 - July 27th, 2005, 8:59 pm Post #2 - July 27th, 2005, 8:59 pm
    Fantastically gross pictures! :D
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #3 - July 27th, 2005, 9:12 pm
    Post #3 - July 27th, 2005, 9:12 pm Post #3 - July 27th, 2005, 9:12 pm
    Cathy,

    You have outdone yourself. The photography is great and I simply love the image of you dining alone at SR, ordering plate after plate of insects.

    I'm guessing you were a bit of a curiosity. I'm sure it's not everyday that they serve up this trio of dishes to a Thai person, let alone a farang. Did they ask you about your interest in or enjoyment of these dishes?

    Also, do we know how these dishes are normally enjoyed among Thai people? Are they grasshoppers treated as a snack, as chapulines are?

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #4 - July 27th, 2005, 9:24 pm
    Post #4 - July 27th, 2005, 9:24 pm Post #4 - July 27th, 2005, 9:24 pm
    EC,

    You have outdone yourself. The photography is great and I simply love the image of you dining alone at SR, ordering plate after plate of insects.


    Thanks! I did it one-by-one because frankly I wasn't sure where my limit may be.

    I'm guessing you were a bit of a curiosity. I'm sure it's not everyday that they serve up this trio of dishes to a Thai person, let alone a farang. Did they ask you about your interest in or enjoyment of these dishes?


    Nobody said a word, at least to me. I think I demonstrated my interest by ordering and enjoyment by finishing every bit before ordering the next. I really was somewhat disappointed in myself for not finishing the ant egg omelet, yet I did eat half and took it home.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the fried insects and worms are drinking foods following the concept of strong foods for strong drinks.

    Truthfully, I wasn't there to make a spectacle of myself rather to try something interesting. As you can well understand, not every dining companion is willing to witness such a range of foods. So going solo was the next best option.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - July 27th, 2005, 9:38 pm
    Post #5 - July 27th, 2005, 9:38 pm Post #5 - July 27th, 2005, 9:38 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Maybe ten minutes later a plate of fried insects were presented to me.

    C2,

    I'm pretty much speechless :shock:

    Intense pictures, very nice.

    The above screams logo line.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - July 27th, 2005, 9:53 pm
    Post #6 - July 27th, 2005, 9:53 pm Post #6 - July 27th, 2005, 9:53 pm
    It's an embarassment of logo line riches, but it takes the pictures to really drive it all home. This is a classic.
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  • Post #7 - July 28th, 2005, 7:06 am
    Post #7 - July 28th, 2005, 7:06 am Post #7 - July 28th, 2005, 7:06 am
    :shock:

    Uff-da.
    Oufti.
    Oei oei oei.
    Aààèèèk.

    Wow.

    Antonius

    P.S. On careful inspection, I agree that the insects of the first picture look like locusts of some sort, but at first glance, they look disturbingly like 'clocks'. Which is not to say that locusts are not themselves to me more than a little disturbing when served on a plate; it looks as if they're chowing down on the garnishes.

    Great photos, great post.
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #8 - July 28th, 2005, 8:12 am
    Post #8 - July 28th, 2005, 8:12 am Post #8 - July 28th, 2005, 8:12 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Truthfully, I wasn't there to make a spectacle of myself rather to try something interesting.


    Of course. I wasn't implying that you were. This is just one of those situations where I thought the hunt for interesting dining experiences might have produced a spectacle as a by-product. :D
  • Post #9 - July 28th, 2005, 11:08 am
    Post #9 - July 28th, 2005, 11:08 am Post #9 - July 28th, 2005, 11:08 am
    Awesome post and pics cathy! I would definately watch someone else eat these critters, but i think i'd be hard pressed to do it myself - maybe with a little arm twisting, or blindfolded!

    I tried the ant egg soup at Spoon, and it was ok. the eggs had a non-descript flavor. I think I just have to find a way to get past the 'idea' of eating insects!

    leesh
  • Post #10 - July 28th, 2005, 1:20 pm
    Post #10 - July 28th, 2005, 1:20 pm Post #10 - July 28th, 2005, 1:20 pm
    Hi,

    You may be amused to know I seem to have a bit of leg stuck between my gums. I've tried to tease it out with my tongue, a toothpick, dental floss and toothbrush with little success.

    A little defiance in their last act?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #11 - July 28th, 2005, 2:19 pm
    Post #11 - July 28th, 2005, 2:19 pm Post #11 - July 28th, 2005, 2:19 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:A little defiance in their last act?

    C2,

    Speaking of defiance/fighting back, take a look, if you have not already, at the link Erik posted a couple of days ago. :)

    Live Octopus Tentacles @ Deep End Dining

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #12 - July 28th, 2005, 2:29 pm
    Post #12 - July 28th, 2005, 2:29 pm Post #12 - July 28th, 2005, 2:29 pm
    Hi,

    Already read it when it was fresh on the internet. Quite inspiring, isn't it?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #13 - July 28th, 2005, 3:00 pm
    Post #13 - July 28th, 2005, 3:00 pm Post #13 - July 28th, 2005, 3:00 pm
    Cathy, I recognized your full-bodied crickets as mole crickets, a serious yard and golf course pest in Florida. (They burrow just under the turf snacking on roots.) A quick search showed the SE Asian variety of this rather homely insect to be a Northern Thai delicacy.

    I admire your moxie in eating these. I like to think I can eat anything, and up to this point I have. However, my formative summers working landscaping in Tampa might make the ingestion of mole crickets impossible.

    On the hoof, the mole cricket is one ugly dude. As you have well captured, the bronze of a quick deep-fry is rather flattering to the mole cricket and did wonders for your diner guests' normally insalubrious complexions. Further, the fresh mole cricket makes an impressive pop when extinguished pedally. I can hear it now.

    Next time you are in S. Florida, it will be quite easy to collect any number of bushels of these land shrimp. A hard rain or lawn sprinkler sends them to the surface in droves. It could be more like crabbing than picking strawberries, to use a few other local do-it-yourself analogs. I can see it now, pant-legs rolled up, a cold beer and a peck of crickets. I've got to think Gulf mole crickets, like Gulf shrimp, are at least as good as those from SE Asia.

    Until your next trip to the land of grouper and crickets, the Thai variety is available pre-cooked:

    Thai crickets (PS, note the ingredient list. A full 96% mole cricket. Secret ingredient, ketchup.)

    Sadly, the surplus of mole crickets in FL has almost been used up by an introduced Brazilian fly that follows the crickets' bittersweet love song to an unsuspecting host, paralyzes the victim, steals the mark's wallet and jewelry, lays its eggs and leaves. A little while later, the unrequited lover is consumed from the inside out by fly larvae (maggots, I guess). Ah, the sorrows of the young burrower.

    A JeffB alma mater declares "victory" over a misunderstood delicacy



    Hey, cricket-eating fly larvae. Mmmmm.

    :P
  • Post #14 - July 29th, 2005, 3:58 am
    Post #14 - July 29th, 2005, 3:58 am Post #14 - July 29th, 2005, 3:58 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Thanks to other food explorers, I’ve already had ant eggs at least twice before, once at Spoon Thai and once at Nhu Hoa for a Laotian approach.... Of the three vastly different preparations, I preferred Nhu Hoa’s the best.


    Now you need to try escamoles, the Mexican version. I liked these a great deal when I had a chance to try them at the erstwhile Chapulin on Halsted -- rather like caviar with mole.

    As I wrote here, I haven't much cared for my other insect-eating experiences. Chapulines, Mexican cured grasshoppers, which I also tried at Chapulin, were unpleasantly prickly, with a tannic tang. By appearance, they were somewhat smaller than your crickets.

    I got to sample witchetty grubs in Australia. These look rather like the caterpillars you ate, but larger. Native Australians in the bush eat them raw; ours were roasted and served in garlic butter. The grubs didn't really have much flavor of their own, but I didn't care for the texture, crunchy outside and squishy inside, something like soft-shelled crab.

    Except for the escamoles, I don't think I'd bother sampling these bugs again. And although I'll typically try anything once, I couldn't bring myself to sample beondegi in Seoul. These are boiled silkworm chysalises, and they have a powerful stench. I might have gotten my nerve up for it if Korean street food etiquette didn't call for eating one's purchase right there, in front of the vendor, but I was afraid of embarrassing myself.
    Last edited by LAZ on August 9th, 2005, 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #15 - July 29th, 2005, 7:31 am
    Post #15 - July 29th, 2005, 7:31 am Post #15 - July 29th, 2005, 7:31 am
    Cathy2 - Those all look and sound amazing! I've heard ant eggs have a shrimp-y taste - not totally surprisingly - when sauteed on their own - did you detect any of that?

    LAZ - I've had those Korean silkworms out of a can. A Korean friend of mine who has excellent taste assured me they were some of the best of the canned. They smelled a little musky, but without much taste, with just a firm, chewiness - like overcooked shrimp. There's that shrimp thing again! I'm guessing they might have them at the Korean market on Kimball if you want to try them without the judgment of a street food vendor!
  • Post #16 - July 29th, 2005, 7:42 am
    Post #16 - July 29th, 2005, 7:42 am Post #16 - July 29th, 2005, 7:42 am
    When I was in 5th grade my teacher, Mr. Clark, was featured on a locally-produced TV segment in which he ate fried grasshoppers. These were not exotic, imported bugs -- just the standard Hoosier backyard variety. After downing several of the crunchy critters in a row, he deadpanned to the camera, "They're just like peanuts. You can't stop with one." The class never took him up on his offer to bring some in for us. Maybe now I could try ... eh, maybe not. 8)
  • Post #17 - July 29th, 2005, 9:28 am
    Post #17 - July 29th, 2005, 9:28 am Post #17 - July 29th, 2005, 9:28 am
    Cathy,
    A truly inspiring post, especially as my insect eating days are ahead of me. I remember the thread on other creatures you've sampled and wondered if you remember that taste experience to compare to these critters.
    I found it interesting that you had the roti and curry first and not as a closer. Maybe too tame a strategy as that may have taken the edge off? :P

    Another question that came to my mind for inexplicable reasons - maybe it was the mention of type unknown and reinforced by JeffB post - regards the source of the insects. Are these 'farmed' or simply harvested from the wild? I'm not seeking out organic or local arthropods, just curious about what's on the plate.

    Thanks!
  • Post #18 - July 29th, 2005, 10:43 am
    Post #18 - July 29th, 2005, 10:43 am Post #18 - July 29th, 2005, 10:43 am
    We were offered chapulines at the no longer extant Restaurante Oaxaca on Ashland & 47th (approx.). They were quite tasty, and we took some home to some teenage boys who quite liked them. Crunchy, with salt and lime.
  • Post #19 - July 29th, 2005, 1:53 pm
    Post #19 - July 29th, 2005, 1:53 pm Post #19 - July 29th, 2005, 1:53 pm
    Image

    bravo. but still...

    Image
  • Post #20 - July 29th, 2005, 1:56 pm
    Post #20 - July 29th, 2005, 1:56 pm Post #20 - July 29th, 2005, 1:56 pm
    TonyC wrote:Image

    bravo. but still...

    Image


    Yo, we have to get that one added to the roster of emoticons.

    E.M.
  • Post #21 - July 29th, 2005, 5:07 pm
    Post #21 - July 29th, 2005, 5:07 pm Post #21 - July 29th, 2005, 5:07 pm
    We were offered chapulines at the no longer extant Restaurante Oaxaca on Ashland & 47th (approx.).


    Were they raised on premises?

    I liked my one meal at Restaurante Oaxaca, but I did observe wildlife in its natural habitat there.

    (Note: I am assuming that one cannot libel a dead restaurant, but I should point out that for legal and such reasons, we don't allow health inspector-level comments about going concerns....)
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  • Post #22 - August 8th, 2005, 1:21 pm
    Post #22 - August 8th, 2005, 1:21 pm Post #22 - August 8th, 2005, 1:21 pm
    Beondegi
    Image
    Image

    Thanks to a Korean friend who got this (on my LTHinspired request) to a cookout, I was able to try it.
    Tasting notes: Nutty, slightly creamy. Vaguely reminiscent of boiled peanuts with a little bit of the shell thrown it (slightly musky as LC put it). A little too salty and soggy from the brine.
    I was told it is better warm. Drained and quickly fried it would have been much better. I think it'll make a very interesting topping too - crunchy and nutty and visually interesting.

    I'm told it's about a $1/can and obtained from

    Asia Supermarket
    34 E Golf Rd.
    Schaumburg, IL
    (847) 884-1137 

    (probably also available at Chicago Food Corp.)
  • Post #23 - August 8th, 2005, 2:31 pm
    Post #23 - August 8th, 2005, 2:31 pm Post #23 - August 8th, 2005, 2:31 pm
    Sazerac,

    Your description reminds me of how others characterize boiled peanuts. It's interesting how these insects keep leading us back to nuts.

    The real test: would you do it again? In my case, yes though I'd prefer to share the wealth with others than to have to eat it all myself.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #24 - August 8th, 2005, 5:08 pm
    Post #24 - August 8th, 2005, 5:08 pm Post #24 - August 8th, 2005, 5:08 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:The real test: would you do it again? In my case, yes though I'd prefer to share the wealth with others than to have to eat it all myself.


    The staff at Sticky Rice does wonder how you managed. ;)

    E.M.
  • Post #25 - August 8th, 2005, 5:17 pm
    Post #25 - August 8th, 2005, 5:17 pm Post #25 - August 8th, 2005, 5:17 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:The real test: would you do it again?


    Yes. And I have another can still with me. Although I'd prefer it not straight out of the can. Warmed and lightly toasted/fried to accentuate the crunch - and mainly to remove the awful brine. I'll admit I had only a forkful. The can is "three servings" but I'd share with many more...
  • Post #26 - August 8th, 2005, 5:33 pm
    Post #26 - August 8th, 2005, 5:33 pm Post #26 - August 8th, 2005, 5:33 pm
    Erik M wrote:The staff at Sticky Rice does wonder how you managed. ;)


    You know, I was wondering what they were thinking, though they were not obviously curious. If I were most anywhere else, I could imagine being under the staff's hot glare. I really do admire Sticky Rice staff for being so reserved and polite when they were possibly so curious.

    There were take-out customer's getting the safer stuff. I really didn't want to call attention to myself because they might pay close attention to my meal, which you can imagine the reaction. I was there to satisfy my curiosity rather than drive away customers.

    I had also been waiting for a moment when Sticky Rice reputation was mature enough that my escapade wouldn't drive anyone away. I hope my timing was right and I did no damage.

    If anything, it was fun though I'd like to share the experience rather than eat whole portions by myself. The plate mounded with bamboo caterpillars was a bit overwhelming, though I did justice one bite at a time.

    Sazerac -- I will be happy to share the can and expense with you!

    All the best,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #27 - August 8th, 2005, 5:37 pm
    Post #27 - August 8th, 2005, 5:37 pm Post #27 - August 8th, 2005, 5:37 pm
    sazerac wrote:(probably also available at Chicago Food Corp.)

    Chicago Food at 3333 N Kimball has (or had) a different brand of silkworm chrysalids. They can be found in the canned fish aisle. As I recall they run closer to $2 but the label is even better than the one you show. I described them as being like waterlogged walnuts that had been left soaking in muddy seawater.
  • Post #28 - August 8th, 2005, 5:45 pm
    Post #28 - August 8th, 2005, 5:45 pm Post #28 - August 8th, 2005, 5:45 pm
    Rene G wrote:Chicago Food at 3333 N Kimball has (or had) a different brand of silkworm chrysalids. They can be found in the canned fish aisle. As I recall they run closer to $2 but the label is even better than the one you show. I described them as being like waterlogged walnuts that had been left soaking in muddy seawater.


    Interesting description. Would you try them again? :twisted:

    Having no idea what would be a good brand, I was happy to let my Korean friend pick it up. She did mention she had had boyfriends (also Korean I think) who asked her never to have that stuff.
  • Post #29 - August 8th, 2005, 5:53 pm
    Post #29 - August 8th, 2005, 5:53 pm Post #29 - August 8th, 2005, 5:53 pm
    sazerac wrote:She did mention she had had boyfriends (also Korean I think) who asked her never to have that stuff.


    Was it a cultural reason? I could imagine two scenarios: 1) aphrodisiac or 2) male-centric drinking foods.

    I remember my cousin's German grandfather scandalized when he ate smoked oysters around puberty. It was going to "Fill his mind with naughty thoughts ..." of course, he ate away knowing the shock it had on his Grandfather's system.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #30 - August 8th, 2005, 6:10 pm
    Post #30 - August 8th, 2005, 6:10 pm Post #30 - August 8th, 2005, 6:10 pm
    sazerac wrote:Interesting description. Would you try them again?

    Hell no, I gave my second can to David Hammond! Actually they’re surprisingly inoffensive and I’d be more than willing to try a different preparation. I remember convincing a friend to try one after much coaxing. He dipped in with a fork and snagged a strand of silk (or something) protruding from the rear of one. That was it, nothing I could say would persuade him to eat one.

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