It’s a known fact that both sand fleas and sand crabs are found at beaches. Their nature allows them to easily hide inside the sand since they are quite small. But, are they edible?
Well, most people would agree that eating something that’s small and looks like an insect is gross. However, that’s not the case with sand fleas. Sand fleas are actually similar to crabs and they can end up on your place even at some luxurious restaurants. In that light, let’s dive deep into the world of cuisine and see what sand fleas taste like.
Origins of Sand Fleas - What are They?
Sand fleas, or so-called sand hoppers, belong to the Talitridae family and are known for their ability to hop around. There are different types of sand fleas that can be found on both European and North American continents. The most popular species, or the one that’s edible, is found on the US east coast.
They are approximately one inch long and have long antennas, so they inherited the name ‘’long-horned sand fleas’’. These are also used in different cuisines and are quite tasteful, especially when you mixed them with other fish from the sea.
Furthermore, sand fleas feed on plankton and other smaller creatures from the sea. And, even though they are associated with insects, they are more similar to crabs in every way.
Can We Consume Sand Fleas?
For everyone wondering whether are sand fleas edible or not, the answer is yes! You can eat sand fleas the same way you enjoy eating sand crabs. However, they come with a certain taste which is not for everyone.
The reason for that is mainly because they live under the sand and collect all kinds of minerals as they grow. Therefore, people have a pretty repulsive opinion of sand fleas, as they look like insects that live in damp places.
On the other hand, there are quite a lot of benefits, in terms of health, when you eat sand fleas. Here are some of the most noticeable ones:
- Sand fleas are full of minerals our body needs on a daily basis. This includes iron, magnesium, and a bit of potassium
- They are considered a high-protein meal, which is perfect for anyone who’s looking to lose some weight and prioritize a healthy diet.
- Once cooked properly, they ensure a sensation crunchy feeling when you eat them.
As we can see, sand fleas are not only edible but also good for our overall health.
What Do Sand Fleas Taste Like?
We already said that sand fleas are edible, but what do they taste like? For some, they taste like any other seafood. However, some people speculate that sand fleas have a special ‘’kick’’ when you first put them in your mouth.
But, everyone can agree that sand fleas taste similar to sand crabs. This is perhaps the most accurate explanation of their taste. Nevertheless, as they live near the sea and the ocean, sand fleas have a bit more salty taste than any other seafood.
The reason for this is because, as we previously said, have a lot of minerals and nutrients inside them. This also makes them quite healthy, especially for those looking for high-protein meals.
Anyhow, the taste can change a lot depending on the recipe and how you cook them. Meaning, you can season sand fleas differently or serve them with other food, which will change their taste completely.
Preparing Sand Fleas for the Plate
First of all, it’s important to know that sand fleas must be properly cooked. Otherwise, you might get sick as they live in a pretty dirty environment. Therefore, pay close attention to the steps below in order to cook sand fleas the best way possible.
1. Wash them thoroughly
The first thing you must do after catching some sand fleas is to wash them thoroughly. Don’t be lazy and don’t rush to get to the next step. It’s important to wash away any kind of debris or dirt they acquired in the sand.
Even the smallest particle left inside their shells can alter the taste badly or even cause some kind of sickness.
2. Boiling process
Next, after they are properly washed, you can put them in a pot and boil them. The reason why we boil them before cooking is to kill all the parasites and living organisms that are found inside sand fleas.
The best way to boil them is to take a big pot and pour some water inside it. Next, put all the sand fleas you have inside the cold water and wait for the water to boil slowly. Once the water starts to ‘’dance’’, you can lower the heat and let them boil for at least 15 minutes. This will ensure all the parasites are dead so you can enjoy sand fleas to the fullest.
3. Prepare them for the pan
This is when the cooking begins. Now we have a pot full of boiled and softened sand crabs that are ready to hit the pan. But first, you need to season them properly. Some people love to make a mixture of flour and herbs (cumin, oregano, Himalayan salt) and roll sand fleas all over.
However, this is totally up to you to decide how to season them. If you like a bit more salty and ocean taste, season them with neutral spices and herbs.
4. Fry them
Now, after you prepared your sand fleas the way you want, it’s time to put them inside the pan. Make sure to pour some oil inside the pan and wait for it to heat up. Only after the oil is hot, you can put a couple of sand fleas inside.
Leave them to fry for a couple of minutes and don’t forget to stir them from time to time. Usually, you need to fry them until they get that brown color - that’s the cue to get them out so they don’t burn.
5. Serve them with tasty food
Lastly, you need to serve them properly. The most popular way to eat seafood, such as sand fleas, is with rice. You can boil some rice and put them beneath the sand fleas on your plate. You can also serve them without anything at all, but that’s not always a good idea. The least you can do is put a slice of lemon aside.
So there you have it. Sand fleas are definitely a good seafood to eat, especially if you like a bit stronger and saltier meals. They taste like the ocean, and if you season them properly, you can have a blast while eating them.