served are testing out recipes with, yes, pregnant ants as part of the ticketed tasting room menu last night. Update, 4:45 p.m. Qui's Deana Saukam reached out to clarify that the ants weren't on the menu, but rather being tested in the kitchen. "We haven't served the ants to anyone and they are not on the menu," she said.
The pregnant hormigas culonas (leafcutter ants) were toasted, finished with brown butter and lime, and placed in a taco. The kitchen received the insects from the Colombian family of one of the cooks. Dorsey Barger of HausBar Farms
luckily dined had the chance to try one of the expecting insects during a produce delivery and described it as "one of the coolest food moments of my life."
Qui’s chef de cuisine Jorge Hernandez has been wanting to work with the six-legged creatures for some time. "All of these great food cultures," he said, like Nordic countries and Mexico use ants and crickets. The kitchen has been undergoing research and development for recipes with these ants right now. "They are super expensive and hard to get," he said, "so we received a small amount to taste and research so that hopefully in the future, we can see what commonalities we can find with insects here in Texas."
Other dishes Qui's kitchen have experimented with include placing crunchy ants in the bottom of soda or within corn masa ice cream or sweet corn mousse. "We keep the research simple," Hernandez explained, "to see the flavor profile and the textures we can achieve." Once they know what they can do with the ants, they’ll try the same recipes with Texas ants.
Insects have been making an appearance on more and more menus in Austin. Odd Duck often features crickets, like tacos with pig ears. Salt & Time created a cricket mortadella.