What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Australia? Crocs? Shrimps on the barbie? Koalas? Whatever you think of, kangaroos can’t be far down the list.
I recently took a vacation down under and the bizarre food eater in me had a craving for unique food experiences. In Australia, weird food means bush meat like croc and emu, but the most common and widely available game there is kangaroo.
Kangaroo Rump steak at Oz Turk Pizza’s & Kebabs
What does kangaroo taste like?
I would say that kangaroo tastes like a cross between venison and buffalo meat. It has a wonderful gamey taste that adds a lot of flavor without being overpowering… perhaps because roos live in the wild and feed on grass and shrubs. The texture of the meat is not quite as dry as deer but it’s leaner than buffalo.
But don’t just take my word for it… if you can’t make it to Australia in person, you can now order kangaroo jerky on Amazon.com.
How is kangaroo cooked?
Down in Oz, I ate kangaroo on several occasions. By far the best preperation was a tender, juicy, marbled kangaroo rump steak cooked medium rare (see photo above). It was cooked by a man who looked like he had been making the dish for decades, who could bring the flavor of the game meat out without drying it out.
Kangaroo Burger at Oz Turk Pizza’s & Kebabs
Surprisingly, kangaroo wasn’t very easy to find in restaurants – we only found 3-4 in Sydney that serve it. Luckily, one of them was a random neighborhood kebab place near our friend’s place. Naturally, when we went we ordered EVERY kangaroo item on their menu, including a kangaroo burger and a kangaroo Turkish kebab (what we like to call gyros).
I highly recommend kangaroo burgers because they’re pretty delicious and inexpensive, but I would avoid kangaroo kebabs – something about the overly sweet tahini sauce used in Australia rubs me the wrong way when paired with kangaroo.
You have other options for getting kangaroo too. While not as ubiquitous as beef or pork, kangaroo meat is readily available in supermarkets around Australia and tends to be cheaper than the meat of farm raised animals. In the supermarket I visited, I saw kangaroo steaks, pre-marinated skewers, and kanga bangas (sausage).
One of the most interesting ways I had kangaroo in Australia was on a pizza at the popular and touristy Australian Hotel (which happens to have an amazing rooftop view overlooking the Sydney Opera house ). The Australian is the place to go if you want kangaroo, emu, and crocodile in a single meal – they have a pizza for each of them.
A pizza at the Australian Hotel that has kangaroo and red pepper on the left half, and emu, tomato, and basil on the right half
At the Australian, we decided to order a custom half kangaroo, half emu pizza in honor of the Australian Coat of arms, which depicts a kangaroo and an emu standing side by side. This pizza was amazing! The highlight was actually the emu, which has a very distinct, surprisingly non-chicken-like taste that’s gamier than the kangaroo. Emu actually doesn’t taste like white meat at all, it resembled a juicy, lean, yet tender beef jerky.
Speaking of chicken… crocodile tastes exactly like chicken in Australia (for reasons explained in the image below) but the crocodile pizza with Thai basil and coconut milk at the Australian Hotel was delicious anyways. PS… all of the pizza described above go down great with a James Squire Golden Ale (my favorite Aussie beer).
Kangacopia: More kangaroo products
From what I’m told, kangaroos are much like deer here in America. They are a native species that lives in the wild and they overlap with human populations on the fringes of civilization. Anyone with a license can hunt them and allegedly they will overpopulate if not hunted (source – MSNBC). Because of the abundance of roos in Australia, they find the fun down under doesn’t stop at food.
Around Sydney, people were sporting kangaroo hats and other leather goods such as wallets and boots (no I’m not talking about Roos, the canvas shoes with a change pocket built in). Another very interesting kangaroo product I found while perusing an airport gift shop was “Essence of Kangaroo”… vitamin capsules that contain kangaroo meat. Side note: they sold sheep placenta capsules at that same gift shop (pictured above).
In closing, what do all of my kangaroo observations lead me to believe?
Stereotypes aside, Australians are genuinely fascinated by kangaroos. They eat and wear kangaroo products, they use kangaroos their as corporate symbols and mascots (see Qantas Airlines), and even the Australian National Soccer Team is called the “Socceroos”.
As far as incorporating kangaroos into their diets goes, while the meat is easy to obtain, I don’t think many Aussies eat kangaroo on a daily basis. They probably eat kangaroo as often as Americans eat venison or other game meat.
In any case, I highly recommend eating some Kangaroo! If it was readily available in Austin, I would be eating it regularly as a leaner and in many ways better tasting alternative to beef or pork.
Have you ever eaten kangaroo? Would you want to try?