I’ve often read that when VIPs visit the Middle East they are served camel by their hosts. Aside from the obvious joke (that I’ve made too many times) about it giving them the hump, what does camel meat tastes like? I’ve heard that it’s similar to beef, but more gamey, so I decided to give it a go.
I ordered a camel rib-eye steak from Alternative Meats and a beef rib-eye from Donald Russell. The camel is sourced from Australia, where the beast have become such a pest to farmers that they have to be culled; the beef is reared in Scotland and fed on grass.
Rib-eye from beef cattle is easily identifiable because of the eye of thick fat in the centre of the steak – and it is is with camel.
Now I’m not a fan of extraneous fat so I trimmed both steaks and was left with fairly slim pickings from both animals, with the beef faring slightly better.
But what of its texture and taste?
I oiled each steak then cooked them for 2 mins each side, before seasoning with salt and pepper.
And I was quite surprised by the results.
The texture of the beef was tight and dense and when bitten into was quite dry. And I’m afraid, it didn’t taste very beefy at all. Perhaps this was because I’d cut off too much fat – a decision I defend because I believe flavour should come from intra-muscular marbling, not the external fat.
Onto the camel. It has a lovely, open, loose texture, which, when bitten into, squirted juice into my mouth. The flavour was very beefy indeed, though not remotely like venison, which I was expecting. So delicious that it has made me wonder how camel sirloin and fillet might compare to beef cattle.
Note: After this taste test, my wife and I shared a Donald Russell pave rump steak – which was better than both of the above! So perhaps the cut is as important as the animal?