Now when we think of crocodile we think of those fierce creatures lining the coast and creeks of our far north feeding on anything that gets in their way, and for this reason it might tend to scare some people off from trying this wonderful meat.
Crocodile has a unique texture that is available in a variety of cuts, the most popular being the tail, and also croc legs and croc ribs are quite commonly used too. It has the taste that's quite similar to pork or chicken.
Croc meat is very versatile and can be grilled, fried, bbq'd, and even stewed. And compared to other meats, crocodile is very healthy being low in fat, low in calories and high in protein, and is also a good source of niacin.
The best way to cook crocodile is to keep it plain and simple. It goes well with lemon myrtle or lemon aspen and the ribs go great with a bbq marinade and cooked similar to pork ribs.
When cooking the tail fillet it should be seared off quickly and treated like a prawn. You do not want to overcook the meat as this will send it tough and dry. Excess fat should be removed as a lot of the waste products from the feeding can be stored there.
It is best served with a light salad and as a pre-lunch or pre-dinner meal such as an entree.
It makes a great alternative to your garlic prawns or smoked salmon and is an outstanding light and fresh dish for the hot weather.
Lemon Myrtle Crusted Crocodile (pictured)
Crocodile and Lemon Myrtle go great together. The bushy lemon flavour matches well with the light sweet flavour of the crocodile. By grilling the lemon myrtle it will add a very slight smokey flavour to the dish as well.
The daikon radish and cucumber salad makes a perfect addition providing a great dimension on the dish by adding a salty alternative with a slight Asian flavour.
500g Crocodile tail
2 Tsp ground Lemon Myrtle
½ Daikon Radish
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Peel then slice the daikon radish into 'slightly larger than matchstick' size pieces.
Cut the cucumber the same but discard the centre keeping the skin on.
Place in separate bowls and salt them with a generous amount of salt and let sit for 10 minutes to extract the liquid.
Now wash off the salt with some water and marinate the daikon in the soy and brown sugar and roast on a tray for approximately 15 minutes at 180 degrees.
Was the cucumber and toss through the cooked daikon radish.
For the crocodile, gently roll into the Lemon Myrtle lightly covering the outside.
Cut into bite-sized medallions and grill each side in a hot pan being careful not to over-cook.
This will serve 2-4 people and is great for an entree and a perfect alternative to your garlic prawns or smoked salmon.
Crocodile legs hold a strange resemblance to tip-less chicken wings, only bigger, meatier and with a distinct sweet pork flavour. The first impression of the flesh is that it's going to be really tough but the second that you sink your teeth into these, you are assured complete tenderness and juicy flavoursome meat.
Crocodile legs make wonderful finger food and would go great with a BBQ marinade or even a lemon mix, especially lemon myrtle.
And there's definitely an eerie feeling about sitting at the bar munching on a croc leg while enjoying a nice cold one, especially if you're sitting in the tropics.
Simple Grilled Crocodile Legs
Cut crocodile legs in half at the joint and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill in a hot pan until they start to brown and then place into the oven at 160ºC for 10 minutes.
If you happen to marinade them, place them straight in the oven for 15 minutes.
Crocodile Pizza with Lemon Myrtle and Warrigal Greens
The amazing combination of the crocodile and the lemon myrtle is enhanced dramatically with the fresh 'spinach-like' flavour of the Warrigal Greens.
The croc should be sliced into strips about 2-3mm thick. Lightly sprinkle the croc with the lemon myrtle and pan fry it beforehand. This will seal of the croc and give it a slight smokey flavour from the lemon myrtle.
1 pizza base
6 Tablespoons tomato sauce
Red onion, finely sliced
150g crocodile tail fillet
1 Tablespoons lemon myrtle
Handful of Warrigal Greens, blanched for 3 minutes
1 teaspoon baby capers
Spread the pizza base with the tomato sauce.
Add a light covering of the Warrigal Greens and top with a small sprinkle of the red onion.
Prepare the crocodile and lemon myrtle as per the introduction and randomly place over the pizza.
Sprinkle the capers and top with the cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes at 200ºC.
An optional drizzle of sour cream is also a great addition.
The Warrigal Greens can also be replaced with spinach if desired.
The bush tomatoes add a unique angle on the tomato base having a pungent earthy tomato flavour with a caramel-type background.
½ brown onion, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200ml white wine
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
75ml white vinegar
1 large sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons ground bush tomato
pinch of salt and pepper
Cook onion in a saucepan on low heat with a little oil for 3-5 minutes until soft and little colour.
Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes stirring regularly.
Add white wine and cook until wine reduces to a third of original volume.
Add tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, thyme, bay leaves and bush tomato and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes until it resembles a chunky sauce. Stir vigorously.
You may need to add a little water for consistency.
Add salt and pepper to taste and cool before using. Remove thyme and bay leaves.
Crispy Pizza Base
3 cups high gluten flour
1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Combine water, sugar and yeast and let sit until fully dissolved.
Combine flour, oil and salt in a large bowl or mixer. It is important that you use flour with a high gluten content (12% protein or higher) in order to make the crust crispy.
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and combine until a dough forms. You may need to add a little extra water to bring it together, but not too much though.
Roll the dough into a ball and place into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size. For ultimate results, place into the fridge for 24 hours and then bring back to room temperature before using. This allows the yeast to work long and hard to develop the dough's texture and flavour.
Now roll the dough out as thinly as possible into the desired size. I like to keep it 'out of shape' to give it that rustic look. Prick the dough 'dock' with a fork every 3cm interval to prevent large air bubbles forming.
Rub lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with good sea salt. Cook for 4-6 minutes at 180°C. Cooking the base first will allow it to become more crisp.
Another great touch is to quickly grill the base on a char-grill or on the bbq to give it that smokey toasted flavour.
Matt Clark Chef, Freelance Writer and Culinary Madness
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