Game meats, the hunting of animals for food in Australia dates back thousands of years with the Aboriginals. In their time, they had a wealth of wild animals to hunt with even some very ingenious methods to get their food from boomerangs to the throwing stick and fire,
which would be used to clear parts of the land to corner in certain game for easier hunting, such as the Monitor Lizard. The clearing of the land was to allow for the growth of a new plant species which would naturally increase the biodiversity of the area, but improve the lizard’s habitat, which would in turn influence the growth of the population and of course give them more food.
The persecution of the Aboriginals began in the mid-20th century, leading to a decrease in their practices of hunting. Many believe that the extinction of many of the native desert species which had adapted due to their practices was due to the disappearance of the Aboriginal people, as they had shaped much of the environment for sustaining such needed animals and their ecosystem.
Today, the face of hunting in Australia is quite different. Many animals have become endangered and it is prohibited to hunt them, and many other native species have disappeared altogether. By the 18th century, European settlers brought much of the game animals to Australia known today including six types of deer; the Indian Spotted deer, the Sambar, Hog deer, the Rusa, Fallow deer and Red deer. Other game that you might find on your dinner table also include the rabbit which is widely considered a pest and is widely encouraged for hunting all over Australia, fox, feral pigs, hares to also include fowl and water fowl of many varieties including; California quail, partridge, pheasant, peafowl and turkey, magpie geese, pacific black duck, wandering whistling duck, pink-eared duck, hardhead duck, plumed whistling duck and maned duck. There are of course other, more obvious game animals more familiar like the kangaroo, the emu, and the crocodile.
Whew! That is a lot of game meats! Now, how might you eat such animals? There are traditional preparations and those with a twist, but to make sure you get the best experience there are some preparation tips we would like to give you before you go off and decide to roast, grill or barbecue your chosen animal. Here you go!
TYPES OF AUSTRALIAN GAME MEATS
Kangaroo is a great healthy alternative for red meat. It is lean with only 2% fat with lean flesh, low in cholesterol and high in protein. Marinade it for a few hours in good olive oil, with even some fresh herbs if you want. For tender kangaroo, cook it slow.
Kangaroo meat is not only a healthy choice for humans it also offers one of the best sources of nutrients in dog treats. This can include kangaroo jerky in Australia.
This is another healthy alternative with only 2% fat as well and low in calories with an average of 150 of them per every 100 grams. Emu meat quickly takes on flavors of any marinade within a half hour to sixty minutes. Cook on medium to high heat and begin by braising to sear in natural juices and its gamey flavor. Cook as steak fillets in a butterfly cut, but remove from the heat while it is still pink in the middle. To get a nice soft bite of emu, cut against the grain.
To switch up your diet, leave the chicken be for a while and try pheasant, partridge, quail or the variety of ducks found in Australia. Substitute any for your favourite Asian cuisine. Marinade, slow roast, duck confit, grill… The possibilities are endless! check out our Squab, polenta and parmesan recipe.
Rabbit & Hare
Australia has an abundance of large Australian farmed rabbits (>1.5kg) wild hare and wild rabbit leg meat. Traditional recipes dating back 100 years for rabbit meals are as good today as when Banjo Patterson enjoyed them.
Wild Boar & Goat
These are great for the barbeque. They will have much more flavor than the average pork and go great with your favorite hearty barbeque sauces.
Cure the bacon, try the ribs with a fig barbeque sauce, pulled wild boar tacos (!), salami… do I need to go on?
The goat is a leaner than beef and full of flavor and just slightly sweeter than lamb. Try it stewed, baked, grilled, with a curry, minced, fried, barbecued or made into a sausage.
Crocodile is a fleshy and succulent white meat. Some might compare it to fish with the taste of chicken. It is lean, however, so there are different methods you could go about cooking it. Crocodile takes to marinades quickly and oftentimes you only need about fifteen minutes of a marinade. Try similar marinades to those you would use for fish with citrus juices and lighter fresh and aromatic herbs. From there you can bake it for a short amount of time, steam it or throw it on the barbeque. A great creole favorite is Blackened Crocodile.