Around this time of year (usually during the first rain), these little fellows come out and become part of Oaxaca’s gastronomical tradition. Salsa de Chicatanas is a traditional salsa made from these large flying ants and other ingredients.
Chicatanas are the queen ants and are pretty aggressive. They have large pincers that can cause a bit of pain if you get tangled up in them! Sometimes the kids like to collect them and organize chicatana fights. I wonder if that’s legal? I bet it’s nothing a “mordida” won’t solve.
Anyway, after catching them (which can take some time depending on where you look), they need to be cooked. This is usually done on a comal – a traditional cooking device similar to a wok, but made of clay and heated by a fire placed underneath. During the cooking process, they loose their wings, and become somewhat crunchy – not unlike the chapulines found in almost every market in Oaxaca. Compared to the chapulines, the chicatanas cost twice as much – about $20 USD a pound!
Chile de árbol
- Cook the chicatanas in a skillet with a bit of oil until the wings/legs fall off.
- Grind them in a molcajete.
- Season the ground chicatanas with garlic, salt and chile de árbol.
- Add a bit of water, and presto, Salsa de Chicatanas