Ostrich Meat – An Introduction
I have seen Ostrich steaks offered on restaurant menus a few times within the past decade or so, but, on each occasion, other items were more appealing for one reason or another so I have yet to try it in a restaurant dish. The meat is still not that widely available in grocery stores as yet, but I recently purchased the package of ground Ostrich Meat you see above and tested it in a couple of recipes.
What does Ostrich Meat Taste Like?
Above, you can see a Patty of Ostrich Meat (the package contained two). The meat could easily be Beef or even Lamb, as far as the appearance goes as it is quite a dark red in color as compared with Chicken, or Pork.
Beside the Patty is a small portion I fried for tasting purposes. The Package indicates that there are no additives or seasonings, which pleased me, and I just lightly salted the raw meat portion before frying it in a pan.
The above picture gives you a slightly better idea of the cooked meat. There is not a great deal of fat (the package indicated there is only 2 grams per 100 grams of product), and the amount of fat thrown off was about the same as from an equal amount of lean ground Beef.
Because of the appearance, I was expecting a ‘beefy’ sort of taste, but it turned out to be much milder and, in truth, not easy to describe. The best I can say is that it was something like a cross between ground pork and ground turkey. It really lacked the umami punch of beef and, for my money, I think you would be better off choosing that considerably cheaper option if making burgers for the barbecue.
Using Ostrich Meat in Recipes
I used the cooked meat in the previous in two ways all based on a basic seasoning style. For this, I made a spice blend of ground coriander seed, fennel seed, black pepper and sautéed this in oil along with a little chopped garlic. I then added chopped onion, red bell pepper, and sliced green jalapeno peppers and, when these were just beginning to soften, I added back the cooked meat and several pinches of turmeric, plus some salt to taste.
For the first use, which you see pictured above, I roasted some halved seedling potatoes that I brushed with oil and seasoned with garlic salt. I used about a third of the meat mix and briefly fried it along with the potatoes and a little bit of crushed red chili for some extra fire to make a sort of curry… it was very good and I probably could have eaten the whole thing again.
I used about a half-cup of the original meat mixture in a small, cold, salad-style preparation inspired by the ‘Larb’ dishes popular in South-East Asia. Here, I tossed the seasoned meat and veggies with a tiny squirt of oil and some lemon juice and served it over sliced cucumber. You could also do much the same thing, serving the meat hot or cold, but using lettuce leaves as wraps, or else tortilla chips, chapati, or the like…
In any event, my experience with Ostrich was generally favorable but it doesn’t have the flavor punch of either Beef, or Pork, and so, if using it, it is likely to be with a lot of high-powered seasonings, which, somewhat obviously, undermines the cost-benefit of using what is still an exotic and relatively expensive meat. The previous two preparations were both very nice but, in all honesty, for future versions, I think I would just use Beef or Pork instead.