The True Taste of Down Under: Emu and Ostrich Meat
Australian cuisine doesn’t often scream unconventional or unique; however, some interesting dishes shouldn’t be ignored. Exotic meats in Australia are regularly overlooked or forgotten, yet they are some of the most exciting tastes you will encounter.
The ostrich is the largest living flightless bird by height and is native to Africa. The ostrich’s slightly smaller relative, the emu, is the second-largest and native to Australia. Both types of meat are widely enjoyed throughout the country.
Emu’s were historically only seen along the east coast of Australia but can now be found both along the coast and inland. They are most common in woodland and forests and typically travel in pairs. A small number of ostriches can be found in the outback of South Australia since birds were released into the wild after several ostrich farms failed. Emus are much more common in the wild.
The Taste Test – How Does Emu and Ostrich Taste Like
Despite being poultry, ostrich and emu are red meats with an intense, deep color and flavor. Often compared to beef or game, these meats are very rich in flavor and boast low-fat levels and high nutritional values.
An excellent alternative for those who love red meat, there are several benefits to switching to emu or ostrich meat:
- Fewer calories
- More protein
- Much less fat than any meat; 1/4 the fat of beef and 1/2 the fat of venison
- Less saturated fat
- Low cholesterol levels
- More iron
- Less sodium
- More potassium
- More of the Vitamins A, D, & E
Although these meats are very low fat, they are still described as juicy and rich. Those eating these meats are often surprised that they contain no fat or marbling throughout. If you enjoy beef, venison or other game, you are sure to love these leaner counterparts.
Consumed by indigenous Australians for thousands of years, emu and ostrich meat have become increasingly popular in recent times, especially among athletes and those seeking healthier diets.
Although these meats are not as popular as some other exotic meats in Australia such as kangaroo, you will still find them widely available in supermarkets and on restaurant menus.
Give them a go next time you spot either on the menu! You won’t be disappointed.
Choosing The Best Cut
Although ostrich and emu meat are comparable with beef in taste and appearance, their lack of fat makes them quite different to cook with. The main cuts come from the thigh or the drum and each needs to be cooked differently.
Thigh cuts need to be cooked quickly over high heat, to no more than medium, ideally medium-rare. They should be cut thinly and then grilled or fried. This cut is ideal in strips for stir-fry or as a steak.
Drum cuts are tougher and best used for slow cooking with lots of liquid, such as soup or stew.
Some of the best cuts are:
- Outside Strip
- Fan Fillet
- Top Loin
- Round Tip
Any meat that cannot be recovered as cuts can be ground for burgers or sausages. These are a perfect alternative to pork sausages, which are much higher in fat.
Cooking at Home
Other than a twist on a classic snag on the barbie, emu and ostrich are used in many great recipes. Both types of meat take on marinades well and are delicious marinated in sweet ingredients such as honey or fruit juice.
Ostrich steak is a delicious, low-calorie replacement for venison without substituting any flavour. Try serving with roast veggies and a red wine sauce for a luxury home-cooked meal for your next date night or dinner party. Check out this simple recipe!
Emu is perfect for a quick mid-week Asian-inspired stir fry and can be cooked in minutes. Try using a beef recipe and switching it out for emu meat as a healthy, tasty alternative. Give this recipe a try.