A Walk on the Wild Side: Your Guide to ‘Exotic’ Meats

Remember that totally awesome scene from I-CaveMan?  You know, the one where that dude hits the elk with his atlatl and saves the village.  Epic.  Well, I don’t know about you but that meat looked pretty darn tasty to me.  I’ve also been lucky enough to have enjoyed some elk in my day…  In fact, the night before I won the Wyoming Marathon I dined on a couple elk burgers.  Yep, I can see it now – “Elk – Dinner of Champions” – and let me tell you, Wheaties have nothing on this stuff.  Okay, enough about elk – let’s talk wild and exotic meat in general.  There is more to be had than the standard beef, pork, chicken, turkey and salmon.  Seriously, it is a jungle out there – ostrich, bear, wild boar, kangaroo, turtle…  And from a nutrition standpoint – if you aren’t walking on the wild side you are missing out!  Now, I know some of these options might be hard (next to impossible) to come by, but if you have access to or an opportunity to explore the wide world of exotic meats throw caution to the wind and get wild!

Here’s a look at how some ‘crazy critters’ stack up nutritionally compared to the usual suspects…

Meat – raw  wt

(100 grams)

Calories

Protein

(grams)

Fat

(grams)

Sat. Fat

(grams)

Iron

(mg)

B-12(µg)

Niacin

(mg)

Zinc

(mg)

Selenium

(µg)

The Usual Suspects:
Beef (ground 85/15) 215 19 15 6 2.0 2.2 4.6 4.5 15.8
Beef (ground, grassfed) 192 19 13 5 2.0 2.0 4.8 4.6 14.2
Beef steak (flank) 165 21 8 3.4 1.6 1.2 6.8 3.8 23.3
Beef steak (grassfed, strip) 117 23 3 1 1.9 1.3 6.7 3.6 21.0
Chicken (breast/skinless) 114 21 3 1 0.4 0.2 10.4 0.6 32.0
Chicken (thigh/skinless) 119 19 4 1 0.8 0.6 5.6 1.5 22.6
Pork (loin/lean only) 143 21 6 2 0.8 0.6 4.9 1.8 36.1
Pork (shoulder) 148 20 7 3 1.2 0.8 3.1 4.3 29.5
Turkey (breast/skinless) 111 25 1 0 1.2 0.5 6.3 1.2 24.4
Turkey (leg/thigh/skinless) 119 19 4 1 0.8 0.6 5.6 1.5 22.6
The Wild and Crazy
Alligator 232 46 4 0 NA NA NA NA NA
Antelope 114 23 2 0.75 3.2 NA NA 1.3 9.7
Bison (grassfed, ground) 146 20 7 3 2.8 1.9 5.3 4.6 20.0
Black Bear 155 20 8 0 7.2 NA 3.2 NA NA
Caribou 127 22 3 1 4.7 6.3 5.5 4.0 10.2
Duck (domesticated) 135 18 6 2 2.4 0.4 5.3 1.9 13.9
Elk 111 23 1 0 2.8 2.1 4.9 2.4 9.8
Emu 134 23 4 1 4.0 6.8 7.5 3.5 30.5
Frog Legs 73 16 0 0 1.5 0.4 1.2 1.0 14.1
Goose 161 23 7 3 2.6 0.5 4.3 2.3 16.8
Kangaroo 100 23 0 0 3.1 NA NA NA NA
Ostrich (ground) 165 20 9 2 2.9 4.6 4.4 3.5 33.0
Pheasant 133 24 4 1 1.2 0.8 6.8 1.0 16.2
Quail 134 22 5 1 4.5 0.5 8.2 2.7 17.4
Rabbit 114 22 2 1 3.2 6.5 6.4 2.4 9.4
Turtle 89 20 1 0 1.4 1.0 1.1 1.0 16.8
Wild Boar 122 22 3 1 1.1 0.7 4.0 3.0 9.8

Now that you have the facts you might be wondering if all these crazy critters really ‘taste like chicken’.  Well check out this handy, “What Exotic Meats Taste Like” summary and wonder no more!   And, as an FYI ‘the hunt’ has just begun.  Stay tuned for posts on the nutritional merits of organ meats, an OMG (Omega Meat Guide) – omega fatty acid breakdown, AND a ‘Yes, Sir(loin) breakdown of different meat cuts of.  So, lurking vegans and vegetarians beware; you won’t being seein’ any seitan here.

Until we ‘meat’ again!

Sources:

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference version 24

Exotic meats USA

Fl-Seafood.com: American Alligator

Nutrition Data

Macro Meats Gourmet Game

 

Categories: Cooking, General, Paleo Diet Basics, Paleo/Low Carb, The Paleo Table

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Comments

  1. Matt says

    Here is Australia you can buy Kangaroo steaks in the supermarket. It’s quite a rich meat, very tasty but can be tough if it’s not cooked correctly. A friend of mine managed a hotel in an Aboriginal community and tried many of the foods that Aboriginals traditionally hunt and gather. He tells me Dugong is hands down the best meat he’s ever tasted.

    • Amanda/Outback Australia says

      Hi there,

      I can confirm this. I’m an anthropologist who’s been living and working in remote Aboriginal communities in outback Australia for 11 years. In Central Australia, kangaroo is found in every supermarket, and in Aboriginal communities, kangaroo tails are a highly sort-after treat. It seems to be eaten by the general population much more in places like Alice Springs than in Australian cities.

      Kangaroo is quite gamey (I’m not a huge fan), but if you marinate, the taste improves.

      However, there’s a lot of other meats that Aboriginal people also LOVE out here: goanna (a very large lizard, tastes like oily chicken with a flaky consistency), Echidna (Australian monotreme that’s a bit like a porcupine, quite gamey to eat) and the most sort after delicacy of all, Bush Turkey – which is a bird about the size of a Road Runner.

      Many of us living here also eat camel. Feral camels are a massive pest introduced (that’s right they are NOT native to Australia) to the outback, and they’re causing the extinction of many native mammal species.

      Camel tastes very much like beef, with the only caveat being that you must eat it rare or medium-rare, unless you’re into eating old boot leather!

  2. Indy says

    Amy,
    This past weekend we attended the Melbourne, Florida Rotary Club’s annual “Wild Game BBQ”, and did we ever have lots of wild game. I’m convinced that the wild game is indeed the best for overall taste and pure Paleo satisfaction. It was an all you could eat outdoor affair that included airboat rides in the swamp nearby. Pure Florida – the part that most tourists never see here. Anyway . . .
    The meats we were given included: Venison, Red Stag, Elk, Catfish (not so exotic), Aligator Tail, and my annual favorite, Black Bear. Black Bear in incredibly tasty and tender. I do consider Bear to be exotic and not really something that could become a staple. However, if only the other meets weren’t considered exotic, were more available, and could become a standard part of our diets, we could be a hell of a lot healthier I think.
    Thanks for the article.

  3. says

    Living here in Alabama, I’m a little offended that you didn’t include ‘possum or racoon meat with a hint of blacktop flavoring. (Just kidding :)

    Seriously though, thanks for providing this–although my exotic meats are fairly limited, I love bison, and look forward to trying a couple of the others on the list :)

    • says

      Black bear can be tricky. I have had good and bad Black bear. Bear fat goes rancid quickly and is nasty tasting stuff, so getting all the fat off during processing is important. Leaving too much fat on can spoil the meat. If you had bad tasting black bear it was probably because they didn’t get all of the fat off.

  4. Neka says

    While I do love me some Elk, the taste does differ with where it came from due to the local vegetation they consume. I would much rather have some that were east of the Mississippi then west. They eat eat a lot of sage out west, & while you think that would add to the natural flavoring (Come on!! You buy sage at the grocery!!) I find it rather over-powering. My opinion at least

  5. says

    I have eaten and shot Moose it is very good , I was actually raised on it . It has it own distinct taste we call it gamey. Black bear is also good it all depends where and what the bear has been eating. Here is a list of some other wild meats I have eaten deer, elk, partridge, all kinds of duck, geese, bison,rabbit and quail. I have also eaten all kinds of wild fish. I guess living in Northern Ontario Canada does offer that opportunity.

  6. OogieM says

    How could you miss the best meat there is? Sheep! As a shepherd raising them I’m saddened to see you don’t include it at all! Grass finished sheep meat is absolutely wonderful and so good for you too. The 2 of us eat about a sheep a month.

  7. Ben says

    Hey, what about goat? It is one of the most delicious meats if cooked properly. Does anyone know the breakdown of that? Also seems like a real exotic food in the west.

    • Amy Kubal says

      There ya’ go!

      Calories: 109
      Fat: 2 grams
      Sat Fat:1 gram
      Protein: 21 grams
      Iron: 2.8 mg
      Selenium: 8.8 mcg
      Zinc: 4.0 mg
      B-12: 1.13 mcg
      Niacin: 3.8 mg

  8. says

    I’m pretty lucky to live in New Zealand where wild boar really is the food of champions (It would be hard to find a rugby player that doesn’t train by carrying the odd boar out of a gully).

    I also have a freezer stocked with wild goat that my friend happened to stumble across while walking his dog (though I still wonder why he had a knife with him while walking the dog). Either way, that goat makes for one heck of a coconut/goat curry.

  9. Patrick says

    Hey,

    Thanks for this interesting list/comparison.

    I do have trouble eating gamey meat. I can really eat to “sheepy” lamb either.
    I’m always trying these things like rabbit/hare/venison/wild boar, but sometimes I already choke after the first bite.

    Is this because I haven’t acquired the taste as a kid and are there ways to get around this?

    Same goes for liver by the way…

    Thanks!

  10. Caeliean says

    When I lived in Japan, aside from (scientific researchally harvested) whale, jellyfish and myriad other ‘fruits de mer’, one of the best surprises I came upon was ‘basashi’ described in English as horse sashimi. REally, really tasty… feel a little guilty about that, considering all the personality they seem to have… bit like eating dog or cat (China/Korea), which don’t really merit much of a mention… I feel they’re both nondescript and not worth the imagery… *wuff* mmm… yeah, no.

  11. says

    I’m totally saving this chart as I eat a bulk of these meats… The only calorie count I question, not that it really matter since I eat foods regardless of their calories, is the ostrich because I have seen other places that it’s far lower than the 165 listed…

  12. Helgi says

    If you get the chance (visiting Norway, Iceland or Japan) you should really try whale.
    Barbequed thinly sliced mink whale is the best steak you’ll ever have, as long as you dont overcook it.

    Seal is also very good, though it suits best, in my opinion, as stew meat.

    These species are very far from any danger of even the danger of extinction in the N-Atlantic, so they can be enjoyed without guilt. Ocean pollution is the only spoiler.

  13. BG CHISHOLM says

    It could be that you think of them as pets rather than food. More gamey type meats do require some time to develop a taste. More often than not it really depends on how it is prepared. Rabbit or Hare is a rather mild taste, not so gamey as Elk, Moose or Deer. I would say it is in the preparation…

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