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Bun Lai, Connecticut Chef, Plans Cicada Menu During Insect Invasion

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CICADA
his photo provided by the University of Connecticut shows a cicada in Pipestem State Park in West Virginia on May 27, 2003. Any day now, cicadas with bulging red eyes will creep out of the ground after 17 years and overrun the East Coast with the awesome power of numbers. | AP

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Connecticut chef Bun Lai is already known for his Mexican grasshopper dish and his fried rice with meal worms and crickets. But he might soon also be recognized as the cicada chef.

Lai, owner of Miya's Sushi, tells the New Haven Register (http://bit.ly/16eNZfy) that he plans to fill a big freezer full of Brood II cicadas, once the red-eyed bugs' 17-year life cycle brings them above ground for about five weeks.

"I'm going to catch a whole bunch of them and preserve them for future eating," he said. "I plan on eating a whole bunch of them myself."

Lai said cicadas, and insects in general have great nutritional value and are "healthier for our bodies than eating meat."

He plans to feature the cicada in some theme dishes, steaming some of the bugs and boiling others, with the appropriate spices and herbs.

"I don't want to take something that's inherently nutritious and deep fry it," he explained. "If I'm going to interrupt this amazing, 17-year life cycle, I'm going to honor it and respect it."

Lai tells the Register that he sees it as a challenge to take something that's abundant and nourishing and make it appealing, not to mention tasty.

"I'm not trying to gross people out," he said. "I'm not running a frat house. I respect the cicada."

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Information from: New Haven Register, http://www.nhregister.com

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New Haven Chef Putting Cicadas on the Menu