A while ago I bought some crocodile meat. It was frozen, so when I got home I put it in my freezer. I knew it was there, snapping away at me, demanding to know when it would be cooked, but there was never really a good enough occasion.
And then Chris from Mele Cotte announced her Deep Freeze Summer Challenge for the second year running and I knew it was now or never. Lucky too, because after I had cooked the thing I realised I was only a month or so off the used by date. Phew!
The meat came in a nifty little package (sorry I forgot to photograph it) and looked like a reasonable slab of meat. Once I opened it, however, I discovered it was folded over on itself and that I had almost double what I’d originally thought! Also, the shape of it made it very obvious that I was dealing with the reptile’s tail.
Hmmm. What to do?
I served the crocodile as part of a Balinese inspired feast, so I decided to grind up some of the long peppers we bought in Bali (using a spice mill), rub the pepper all over the tail then barbeque it?
Long peppers? I hear you ask. What are those?
Long peppers and crocodile meat? What next!!!
Well here’s some information on each of them:
Long pepper (Piper longum) is also known as Javanese Long Pepper, Indian Long Pepper or Indonesian Long Pepper, as well as Tabiabun in Indonesian. It is a flowering vine producing fruit that is usually dried and used as a spice (very top photo).
It is a relative of the black pepper plant, although its flavour is stronger, hotter and muskier. You could say it tastes like a combination of nutmeg, chilli and cardamom.
The long peppers flower spikes are actually made up of tiny fruits, each the size of a poppy seed. Present in these tiny fruits is the chemical, alkaloid piperine, which provides the peppery pungency.
The long pepper was a very important and sought after spice and was known even to the Romans. It’s popularity declined significantly after the discovery of chillies in the Americas. Although it is rarely used in European cooking anymore, it still has a place in Indian, North African and particularly Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine.
And let’s not forget the Deep Freeze crocodile meat. The meat tastes like rich, organic chicken with something a little special that you can’t quite place. It could easily become a new favourite meat.
After a little research I discovered some interesting information about crocodile:
• The Australian saltwater crocodile (C.porosus) is farmed and managed in Australia in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
• Sustainable farming of crocodiles has been an overwhelming success and is a model for other threatened and endangered species.
• The meat is ideally suited to Australian native ingredients including pepperberries, lemon myrtle and wattleseed.
• Can be fried, grilled, BBQ or stewed but should be cooked very slowly over low heat otherwise it can really toughen up.
• Some recommend cooking frozen to prevent the loss of juices during thawing.
• Always use butter or olive oil as margarine can impact the flavour negatively.
• Best served medium-rare.
• The best cuts are the back-strap and tail fillet.
• Always trim the fat, as it has an unpleasant taste.
• From 100g of croc meat you’ll get 21.1g protein, 1.9g fat, 436kj. That’s better results than chicken, beef or legs.
• Low in fat and calories and high in protein, but slightly higher cholesterol than other meats.
• Low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fat and is considered a good source of niacin and vitamin B12.
• Has a very delicate flavour so accompaniments should not be over powering.
• Use of marinades help to break down the muscle fibres enzymatically (kiwifruit purée, pawpaw, pineapple or mango skin).
• In the 2005 World Expo in Nagoya, the Australian Pavilion served over 100,000 crocodile rolls during the 6 month event.
The recipe is simple but the results were delicious.
And I ticked off another 2008 Food Challenge by taste testing croc meat.
Buaya Tabiabun (Long Pepper Crocodile)
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4.
1½ teaspoons freshly ground long pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1kg crocodile tail
1. Rub olive oil all over the meat.
2. Dust the long pepper over the meat.
3. Barbecue on a low heat for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and rest 2 minutes.
4. Serve with rujak, pickles and nasi kuning.
So this is my contribution to 2008 Deep Freeze Summer Challenge.
Tags: morsels and musings food blog food and drink australia recipes crocodile long pepper main course crocodile recipes long pepper recipes reptile recipes australian recipes australian food australian cuisine indonesian recipes indonesian food indonesian cuisine