Monday, November 6, 2017

Donkey Meat - Dunhuang

In an April 30, 2012 interview, Andrew Zimmern was asked if there was anything that U.S. citizens don't normally eat that they should open their minds to? He responded, "We could start with my favorite food that isn't eaten here, which is donkey. This is an animal that grows to maturity quickly, is a very forgiving eater, easy to raise, a disease-resistant species, and it's delicious. And you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between it and veal, except that it's better than veal. It is fantastic, absolutely delicious." 
These are wild burros in Nevada, the descendants of domesticated donkeys. They look very similar to the donkeys we saw in Central Asia.  
Brainjet noted that donkey was one of "13 Animals We'd Never Eat That Other Countries Love." Like Zimmerman, it compared the taste to veal: "Donkey meat is said to be lean, full of protein, and similar in flavor to veal." It is considered "a delicacy" in some countries, "one of the best [meats] on the planet." 

One of those countries is China. An old Chinese saying is, "Dragon meat in heaven, donkey meat on earth." That is, dragon meat is the most delicious meat in heaven and donkey meat is the most delicious meat on earth.

The Chinese love for donkey is confirmed in a travel guide for Dunhuang, China which states, "Donkey meat is praised as the top meat in China."

A popular dish in Dunhuang is yellow noodles with donkey meat. The yellow noodles "can be thin as a beard and as long as strings." The sauce for the noodles is "mushroom, diced donkey meat, tofu and other materials."

When we visited Dunhuang one of my goals was to try donkey meat. I asked one of our guides, Orlando (the names she goes by with Americans who can't say her name), if she would find a restaurant that serves donkey and show us how to get there. Well, she not only did that, she walked us there and ordered for us as the menu was all in Chinese and no one in the restaurant spoke English.

She helped us to order two donkey dishes, one was donkey meat with yellow noodles. The noodles were round and quite thick and obviously the primary focus of this dish. As advertised, it had chunks of tofu, chunks of donkey and mushrooms. I loved the sauce, but I'm not a noodle person. The noodles languished.
Donkey meat with noodles. 
The other dish we ordered was chunks of donkey meat cooked in green and red peppers. The donkey chunks were very fatty and very tender and had a slightly sweet taste. They must have been slow cooked for hours. Both the red and green peppers were very soft and quite hot. The heat and fatty sweet taste combined wonderfully. I could eat that dish every day. I loved it. 
Donkey meat with red and green peppers. 

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree that both of these were pretty good. There was no off-putting flavor, and I would never have guessed it was a meat I don't normally eat. I am a noodle person, and they were good.