Beondaegi: How to Eat Boiled Worms


Anyone venturing into the Asian continent is bound to have an encounter with some form of insect cuisine. In South Korea, Beondaegi (번데기) is the go-to snack for high protein munchies.

Photo by Michael Johnstone

Admittedly, it has taken me two years to muster the courage to try the boiled silkworm street food. Although I’ve had some strange (and sometimes wonderful) foods here in Asia, I have a strong repulsion to insects in any form, so beondaegi didn’t get checked off my list until this past weekend during the chuseok holiday.

Beondaegi has a very strong, indescribable smell. I suppose you could say that it’s exactly the smell you’d expect when you boil larvae for several hours, but I can’t think of anything to make a comparison to. But once  you smell it, you know it, and you’ll never forget.

On a three-count I finally lanced one of the worms and stuck it in my mouth. The texture is somewhat like that of a raisin; a slightly tough, leathery exterior with a squish, and a soft, juicy surprise in the middle. Oh, and the aftertaste of death.

If you come to Korea, put it on your todo list. It’s not the most horrible experience I’ve had (comparatively, I dry-heaved more when eating  jellyfish or the century egg), and it might be the least-offensive way to kick off an insect eating rampage.

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