This article was sponsored by Tourism NT
Australia’s national dish is a hotly contested issue. Some people suggest the meat pie and tomato sauce combo, while others have suggested chicken parmigiana at the pub or a good old-fashioned backyard sausage sizzle.
But no food is more Australian than outback tucker, and there’s no better place to experience it in all it’s squeamish delight than the outback and top end of the Northern Territory. How many of these have you tasted?
Crocodiles might lurk ominously throughout the waters of the territory, but humans can truly enjoy the upper hand by sampling the meat of the ancient beast. Some people say crocodile meat tastes like pork, while others compare it to white fish and shark meat.
And it seems crocodile meat is going global. Australian product developer Marnie Flanagan recently landed a deal to export crocodile meat to the US after her domestic success stocking her crocodile meat products in metro and regional supermarkets locally. The top cut of crocodile, the tail steak, retails for about $40 a kilogram, on par with salmon steak.
Dive in at the Red Ochre Grill in Alice Springs, with sticky chilli and davidson plum jam-coated crocodile ribs, asian greens, wild chimmi-churri, radish and toasted peanuts. Or try the house-cured Crocodile Gravlax at O.A.K restaurant Darwin (above), with Ouzo-cured smoked crocodile tail with compressed watermelon, basil and a kaffir lime dressing.
Kangaroo is a high protein, low fat meat that is best served medium rare. The flavour is similar to beef, though perhaps a little more gamey, and around 15 percent of Australians say they eat it four times a year.
The consumption of kangaroo has been embraced for environmental and ethical reasons in that the production requires no additional land or water use, and produces very little methane gas. The ethical meat has even spurned its own dietary category known as Kangatarianism – a vegetarian diet which includes kangaroo meat.
Kangaroo is available throughout the territory and the country. Red Ochre Grill in Darwin serve kangaroo tail with baby turnips, shaved brussel sprouts, persimmon, crispy saltbush and buffalo yogurt. Or enjoy kangaroo and crocodile skewers served with bush chutney at Outback Jacks Bar & Grill, Darwin (above).
Around 350,000 wild camels roam freely through the nation’s deserts, so it makes sense that the giant beasts are considered a viable meat for consumption in outback Australia.
One of the major current producers of camel meat in Central Australia is the Ngaanyatjarra Camel Company, and the meat ends up at butchers priced at around $12.99 a kilo, with one leg alone weighing around 70 kilograms.
The Overlanders Steakhouse in Alice Springs are perhaps best known for The Drovers Blowout menu: a four-course meal that includes a platter of crocodile vol-au-vent, kangaroo fillets, buffalo medallions and wild camel served with sweet plum sauce.
Witchetty grubs are traditionally eaten alive and raw – not for the faint of heart. They can be raked over hot coals or cooked over a fire and eaten like a prawn – that is, biting into the wriggling body of the grub and throwing away the head. The high protein snack has been described as sharing the taste and texture of a hot, runny, fried egg.
Witchetty grubs are the small, white larvae of the ghost moth, measuring up 12 centimetres long, three centimetres wide and found in the roots of the Witchetty Bush. Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Tour is located out of Kings Canyon and offers a tour in the dead of winter that is primetime for digging up witchetty grubs, known as ‘maku’ in Luritja. Or check out Mulgas Adventure Tour (above), who offer relatively affordable camping trips into the Red Centre exploring Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.
If you don’t fancy foraging for your grub, tins of witchetty soup can be found in some supermarkets across Australia.
Buffalo were introduced into Australia and have been causing trouble ever since. Buffalo were the first heavy water-dwelling species in Australia and their wallowing habits damaged native flora and fauna in waterways. As a result a major culling operation was undertaken in the 1980s and the population of buffalo was reduced to about 80,000 animals. In 2008, the population of water buffaloes was estimated at approximately 150,000.
They can grow up to two metres in height, three metres in length and weigh up to a massive 1,200 kilograms. Buffalo meat can be found throughout the territory, usually on buffalo burgers. There’s even an annual Kakadu Buffalo Burger Eating Competition held on Australia Day each year.
If you’re keen to taste this weird and wonderful meat, try the sliders at The Daly Waters Pub in central NT, which include crocodile meat, barramundi, buffalo and kangaroo.
This article was sponsored by Tourism NT