The True Taste of Down Under: Crocodile Meat
Well documented and cherished by The Crocodile Hunter himself (RIP), crocodiles are no longer endangered. In fact, they are breeding well throughout the Northern Territory, and croc meat has become quite the delicacy in Australia. It’s not as common as kangaroo meat but still well-loved and available in high-end restaurants, delis, and some supermarkets.
Australia has two crocodile species, fresh and saltwater, and in the past, both were hunted mainly for their skin. Over the years, the advancement in gastronomy and cooking has meant that crocodile meat has become more popular and sought after.
Crocodile meat has quite a unique taste, and although it may be a bit too pricey (depending on your location) to eat regularly, it is definitely worth trying at least once!
Australia accounts for 60% of the global trade in crocodiles. China is a large importer of crocodile meat, using it for specialist Chinese cuisine and medicinal soups. It is thought to heal ailments and improve the immune system.
What Does Crocodile Taste Like? ‘Tastes Like Chicken’
A well-known phrase used for most uncommon meats, but this time it’s kind of true.
Crocodile meat is mild in flavor, with its firm and tender texture of succulent white meat; some have also compared it to a lighter version of pork. The meat flakes apart with ease but will not come apart as easily as fish, though the crocodile may have a slight fishy taste depending on where it is caught. It is sometimes likened to calamari.
As with most meats, the cut will affect the quality and taste, so choosing a good cut and cooking it correctly is essential. Some people say that croc meat is tough or chewy; this is usually down to it being overcooked.
Similar to emu and kangaroo meat, crocodile meat is low in fat and high in protein, making it a hit amongst athletes and bodybuilders. It has several other benefits compared to other meats:
- Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids
- High fibre
- High levels of potassium and vitamin B12
- Low cholesterol
- High iron
Best Crocodile Meat Cuts
Most parts of the crocodile can be eaten, and if you are a true enthusiast, you may enjoy eating the feet, which have been compared to frogs legs.
Popular cuts are the tenderloin, ribs, body, jaw, and tail. You will often find it in steaks, burger patties, fillets, and mince.
Many people even enjoy eating the tongue! Are you brave enough to try it?
Cooking The Croc
When cooking this meat at home, it is advised to pan-fry on high heat for a short amount of time. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes before serving as you would beef. The desired finish is just cooked or medium-rare. Crocodile is best cooked from frozen as it maintains moisture and locks in the flavor.
Everyone knows that Aussies love a pie, and croc pie is no exception. Crocodile meat can be expensive so using it in a pie is ideal for making a little go a long way.
Crocodile is very versatile and can be used in slow-cooked dishes like casseroles or curries. It is also excellent braised, smoked, or ground into sausages.
Crocodile meat works well with Asian flavors. How about giving this recipe for Crocodile & Paneer Tandori Kebabs with Homemade Raita Chickpea Pancakes a go?
Or what about this Aussie take on a Malaysian Laksa? Delish!
Featured photo by Louis Hansel.