No? Well I have. Hachinoko, 蜂の子, are one of the unspoken delicacies of Japan. I tried hachinoko for the very first time while having dinner with my friend, Gareth, my student & friend Kyoko, and her family. We had already eaten our fill of the wonderful spread that she had prepared, so we had some light servings of fruit as dessert. While we were eating and talking, Kyoko asked if we had ever tried hachinoko. Gareth and I both said no. But we were both willing to give them a try.
I don’t think Gareth enjoyed them very much, but he was a trooper for trying. I think he was a little put off by the look alone and truth be told, and I can’t say I blame him. There really isn’t much of a way to make baby bee inards (horumon) look appealing. I rather enjoyed them, but it’s not something that I would just eat loads of in one sitting. Eating hachinoko with some type of cracker is a good idea, because the plainness of the cracker can balance the very distinct flavor of the bees.
How do baby bees taste? What’s it like to eat a baby bee, you wonder. Well, this one is a little harder to explain. Baby bees look like and have the consistency of guts…no way to skate around that one. But they taste a lot better than they look, which isn’t so hard because it looks like a can of wet innards. As you bite, your teeth get a mild crunch (the exoskeleton I’m guessing) followed by this slightly unsettling chewiness.
As far as flavor goes, baby bees are sweet. I’m unsure if that’s natural or not, but they were definitely on the sweet side. In addition to being sweet, hachinoko are starchy, rich, and have a bit of a smoky aftertaste. I’ve tried these before, so I’m not thrown off by the way they look. However, if you’re a first timer, I don’t recommend trying to down a huge tablespoon full of these, at once. Try taking it little by little until you become accustomed to the texture, flavor, and the fact that you’re eating insects.
Now that I think about it. I have also eaten crickets, and guess who gave me my first crickets to eat…Kyoko! LOL. In my honest opinion, though, both of these were pretty palatable. The crickets had been seasoned in soy sauce/sugar sauce. So it was like eating lightly sweetened potato chips with legs, arms, and eyes. Bees took a little longer to get used to, but they’re okay.