Saturday, January 27, 2024

Overview of Unusual Meats: Part 7 (Lionfish to Muskox)

     LIONFISH:    I got a lionfish from Anshu Pathak at Exotic Meat Market ("EMM"). They are an invasive species off the southeastern U.S. coast and the Caribbean and I assume that is where it came from. It was already gutted, but I had to remove the spines which are poisonous (I did not want to experiment to see if they still had poison). It is a delicate white meat so I wanted a spicy preparation. I put on butter, some goulash cream hot paprika mix csipos which we purchased in Hungary, some ground fresh chili with garlic and a spicy tomato salsa. I put them in a sous vide for 40 minutes. The mild fish went great with the spicy ingredients. 

     LLAMA:   We had llama porterhouse steaks from EMM. It is very lean. It had more flavor than beef and was not gamy, but it was tough and hard to cut. I grilled it on our gas grill. 

I got a llama ribeye from EMM and brined and marinaded it for about two hours, then cooked it on our gas grill. It grilled unevenly and I had to cut it into smaller pieces, but it was great flavor, stronger than beef, but not gamy. 

     LOBSTER:   Lobster is in the top five of my favorite foods, if it is cooked right. I like it when it is just turning white from transparency. We have occasionally had lobster with our children since they were young and lived in San Diego. Up until recently I've had a tradition with my grandchildren of cooking and eating lobster with them. Probably the best lobster I've ever eaten was at Beal's Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor, Maine. Boats come right up to the restaurant, which is on a pier, and unload their lobsters, so it is as fresh as you can get. They sell "new" or "soft-shell" lobster, which is a lobster just after it has molted its old shell, which it does once a year. Their shells are softer, there is a gap between the meat and the shell which makes it easier to extract the meat, it has less meat, but the meat is more tender and tasty (more sweet). I ordered the biggest soft-shell lobster they had, 3.2 pounds. There was a notable gap between the meat and the shell and the meat in the claw was as good or better than the meat in the tail. 
Beal's is on the left, on a pier.

My 3.2 lb. lobster compared to Judy's 1.26 lb. lobster. 

A grilled cheese sandwich with lobster, cheddar cheese and tomato on grilled bread, recommended by our guide. It was good, but not comparable to the lobster. 
Next are some photos of cooking lobsters with my children and grandchildren over the years. 
Spiny shell lobster in San Diego with my daughter, Rachael. 

Maine lobsters with my three children. 

Lobster with my oldest granddaughter, Savannah.

Savannah and Ella at a lobster, crab and octopus feast. 

Savannah saw rip the tail off one lobster and she did the same on a second lobster, all on her own initiative. 

Lobster hats for the occasion. 
I have learned to love lobster roe and tomalley. Lobster roe is lobster eggs and is naturally black. When it cooks it turns red and is called coral. The black roe is liquidity, salty and sweet. The coral is more rubbery and does not taste as good. The tomalley is green, sweet and salty. It comes from the Carib word "tumale" which means lobster liver. It serves the function of liver and pancreas. It is not for the faint of heart and I've read that only about 10 percent of lobster consumers it the roe and tomalley. 
Lobster roe, both black and coral. 

Black roe mixed with green tomalley.
When we visited Maine one year I went on a lobster roll quest. Some of the lobster rolls we tried.
From the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine.

From Maine Diner in Wells, Maine.

Mabel's Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport, Maine.

From Daniel's Restaurant & Pub in Henniker, New Hampshire.

From the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire. 
     MOOSE:   A client gave me some meat from a moose he shot in Alberta, Canada. Of course the New York and sirloin steaks were best. Very lean, very little marbling. A put on olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on the grill until medium rare. I found no gamy taste at all and liked it better than any deer, elk or antelope I've had, only surpassed by bison. 
Sirloin on the left and three New York steaks on the right. 

I got some moose meat patties from the same client. It is so lean that they add 8% beef fat to them. Mild meat, not very juicy because of lack of fat, but a nice flavor. 

I've had moose sausage twice. Anshu Pathak of EMM was given a moose sausage by a friend and he could not sell it, so he gave it to me. It was soft, mild, no gaminess and the spices were good. 

About four years later my client gave me some moose sausage from another moose he shot in Alaska. This was quite different from the first sausage I had, it was more like kielbasa from a texture and taste standpoint. 

We had an employee whose mother-in-law lived in New Foundland, Canada. New Foundland has so many moose that they import hunters to shoot them. Her mother both cans and bottles moose meat and she has provided it to me several times. The canned meat is more dense and firm and I could not distinguish it from beef. The bottle moose was less dense and firm and had great mouth field. Very mild and no gaminess. 

We had some LDS missionaries up for dinner and Judy volunteered to us some canned and bottled moose to make a moose and potato pie. We mixed the meat with peas, carrots, onions and zucchini. She made a pie crust, covered it with the meat mixture, then covered it with mashed potatoes and baked it in the oven. 

     MUSKOX:   In Greenland we had several opportunities to taste muskox. 
Muskox at a zoo in Yukon, Canada. 

We had smoked muskox at Hotel Icefiord in Ilulissat. It had the texture and taste of a thick cold-cut of beef. 

At Restaurant Mammartut in Ilulissat, we had muskox in its own gel and wrapped in a pastry. The pastry overpowered the taste. 
Back at Restaurant Mammartut again, we had a muskox burger. It was cooked unevenly, some too well done. Less-cooked portions and those portions covered with cheese were fantastic, I wouldn't have thought it anything other than beef. 
At Restaurant Rokluben, outside Kangerlussuaq, I had muskox tartare, raw muskox put through a grinder with mayo, dried tomatoes and herbs. It was fresh and mild, but I would have liked more seasoning.