25 November 2014

Supermarkets of Mystery: Emu, kangaroo and crocodile jerky

Is Australia the only country who eats the symbols on their coat of arms?

Posted by Alison (November 2014)

Paul Hogan, John Williamson and Sonny Hammond have a lot to answer for, they are the first things that come to mind when I think of crocodiles, emus and kangaroos. Shawn nominates Clancy the English exchange student instead of Sonny and I must admit Tony Bonner could take me for a ride in his helicopter any day. The best episode ever of 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo' is the one where Clancy and Mark go to a beach party: surfing, music and lots of groovy bikinis. And Tony Bonner with no shirt on.

So what do they all have to do with jerky? And what is jerky?

While walking though Woolworths at Town Hall to the Pittsway Arcade I spied a whole wall of dried meat. Not just beef, but crocodile, emu and kangaroo. I've had the different meats before, but never as dried leather like strips of chewy sinew. Buy and try is the motto at B-Kyu, and with thoughts of the Australian coat of arms (which features a kangaroo and an emu), 'Crocodile Dundee' (with a bit of Steve Irwin thrown in), 'Old Man Emu' and Tony Bonner, that's what I did.

Jerky is a process that turns fresh meat into dried meat so it doesn't have to be refrigerated. It is easily transportable and has been used as a preservation method since the days of the wooly mammoth. To Portuguese explorers hammering their way across new countries it was known as xarque, northern Americans may know it as pemmican, Native Americans called it as char-qui and the English eventually called it jerky. There's numerous types of dried beef across the world, but jerky is usually known for its small strips of marinated and relatively fat free bites of meat.

Emu is the first bag that gets split open. I'm surprised the meat is so dark, the flavour isn't very strong or overpowering. The small pieces are chewy so you can't eat them too quickly, although that doesn't stop me eating most of the packet in one go.

I'm also surprised that the calorie count is really low, probably as the meat itself is low in fat and the process of making jerky means most of the fat is removed as well, replaced with spices for flavour. A 50g bag has about 140 calories and roughly 570 kj, not much at all. Go 5:2 diet.

The scientific name of the bird, Dromaius Novaehollandiae, is on the packet just in case you need to know.

The kangaroo jerky is surprisingly good. It has a softer texture and a meatier taste. Shawn describes it as meat 'fruit roll-ups', he likes the strange, waxy texture and helpfully consumes most of the bag.

The scientific name of the roos used in this bag is 'Macropus Rufus' or red kangaroo. That's interesting isn't it boys and girls.

Again, the calorie count is low, almost the same as the emu. Go crazy, dieters!

Opening the bag of crocodile jerky unleashes a pungent curry aroma. Who would have thought crocodiles liked their food spicy? We always thought they ate tourists who went swimming in Northern Territory lagoons without reading the helpful warning signs that say 'No swimming'.

The meat is surprisingly higher in fat so the calories are higher on this one. Must be all the backpackers they eat.

The jerky comes from Salties who I hope are bred for their meat and skins rather than wild ones. And for all you budding Dr Karl's out there, the scientific name is 'Crocodile Porosus'.

There's a note at the bottom of each packet describing how the meat was prepared according to the Export Control Act, so if you are buying this to take outside of Australia there's a good chance it will be accepted but check the quarantine rules. The packets are light so good for posting home.

We picked these up at Woolworths Town Hall near the Sushi stand. This Woolies is a great source for food related souvenirs or gifts that are far cheaper than the airport duty free. The emu and kangaroo retails for around $7.50 each and the crocodile is more expensive at $10.

Woolworths Town Hall store is at the corner of Park and George Streets, Sydney, entrances downstairs from Town Hall train station or from the street.

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