Today, I have earned my gastronomical stripes – by cooking and eating zebra. And very delicious it was too. This is the opening chapter of a culinary quest to broaden my palate’s experience and try something a little more exotic. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be cooking meats as diverse as antelope to zebra, from camel to crocodile. I might not enjoy them all – and I will certainly say so if I don’t – but the discovery will be enlightening regardless.
All the cuts ‘ll be eating are supplied by Alternative Meats, owned by game producers Jeanette Edgar and Rachel Godwin. And where appropriate, I’ll be using recipes form their newly released ‘The Exotic Meat Cookbook’. All Jeannie and Rachel’s meat is traceable and complies with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which ensures trade doesn’t threaten the survival of the species or its eco-system.
This week’s Exotic Meats Taste Test: Zebra Fillet Steaks with Teriyaki Sauce
A word about Zebra:
This meat is from the carefully managed Plains Zebra, found across eastern and southern Africa. It is incredibly lean and light, with a pale pink colour. I’ve never tried horse meat so can’t compare with its cousin, but in my opinion, the texture is akin to veal. The fillet is about as lean a piece of meat as I’ve ever tried so it is crucial not to overcook. As recommended by AM, I pan-fried these steaks to medium-rare, giving them a crisp, golden exterior. They were quite dry in the mouth and quite chewy, so I’d suggest slicing them thinner than I did. The teriyaki sauce worked a treat with them and I’m sure they would make a great stir-fry ingredient with other light Oriental sauces.
2 zebra fillets, approx. 150g each
A little olive oil
2 tbsp Shaosing rice wine
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
For the coconut rice:
130g Thai Jasmine rice
130g good quality coconut milk
Half tsp salt
For the vegetable stir-fry
A little sunflower oil. Baby sweet corn, bok choi, red pepper slices, watercress, thinly sliced ginger, deseeded and thinly sliced red chillies
1. First make the coconut rice by putting all the ingredients in a saucepan and bringing to the boil. Reduce to a summer and cook for approx. 10 mins until all the liquid has been absorbed. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for around 5 mins.
2. Heat a large frying pan and add a splash of sunflower oil and stir-fry the vegetables for around 3-4 mins.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan until it is smoking hot. Oil the steaks, then cook for 5-6 mins each side, until the outside is crisp and golden but the inside is still pale pink. There should be no blood.
4. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for a couple of minute before carving. I carved the steaks into 1cm slices but I should have gone thinner.
5. Mix the teriyaki ingredients in a bowl. Return the steaks to the hot pan and add the teriyaki sauce. Bring to a fierce boil, then serve immediately.
VERDICT: Probably one of the healthiest meals I’ve had for a while. The zebra was incredibly lean, but part of the problem with very lean meats it is that it can lack flavour, and so it was here. The book described it as ‘grassy’, which I got, but only slightly. However, a grind of salt brought much more flavour to the fore and the teriyaki defnitely enchanced it. I would recommend zebra as a healthy option, not an indulgent one.
• This is a modified recipe from ‘The Exotic Meat Cookbook’ (available on iPad from the Friday Project).
• Alternative Meats sent me the ingredients to cook with but I have not been paid for this post.