If you don’t have them on hand, they’ll be expensive. But trust us, this flying ant is delicious and goes the same way in sauces as in main dishes.
Eating insects is very Mexican. We ventured the same with grasshoppers, as with maguey worms, varieties of bedbugs like cocopaches and now, with more and more knowledge, we enter the world of chicatanas.
These are ants initially known to be leaf cutters of plants, but which are increasingly appreciated in the gastronomic world.
The chicatanas it come to the surface only one or two days a year, at the beginning of the rainy season, and its main location is distributed in Mexican states like Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla. However, they are also found in Central and South America.
Ollin Velasco Photo
In short: the collection of chicatanas
These ants, whenever the rains of June or July arrive (depending on the year), leave their nests in the ground. The reason is that the queen ant is fertilized by the winged males of the hive.
They know it as “the nuptial flight” and it is only the moment when the queen takes flight and is followed by the male specimens. At the same time, female ants move across the floor. They are hundreds, even thousands for each nest.
When the queen ant is fertilized, it falls to the ground. The male, for some biological reason, dies. The other males also descend. Everyone slowly searches again to get into their lairs. The queen will be in charge of giving birth to many more members of the hive. They will not leave until the next rainy season.
How to make a hot sauce with chicatas?
There are several ways to do it. It depends on each state where it is replicated and on the ingredients that are at hand. Here are several options for you to try your own Oaxaca-style version from home:
– It is important that you put your chicatanas on a hot griddle so that they brown.
– If you want to make the sauce with a blender, it is best to boil tomatoes with tree chilies or jalapeños. Once they are cooked, put them in the blender glass, add salt, onion, a clove of garlic and all the chicatas you have available, and process.
– Now, if you want it from molcajete you can afford other licenses. One of them is that the tomatoes, tomatoes, garlic and onions you use can be covered directly on a comal or on the coals. Then it will be enough to add all the ingredients, along with the chicatanas and some coriander leaves, inside a molcajete. Once you grind everything inside the instrument, you will be left with a smoked sauce with an unmistakable flavor: that of toasted chicatanas. You just have to rectify the salt and that’s it.
It is good to know that, because they are seasonal and only once a year, chicatas are expensive if you do not collect them yourself. So, if you want to prepare a sauce of this nature and do not live in a place where they are harvested, be prepared to pay between 500 and a thousand pesos for half a kilo of them. It depends on where you find them.