• Kangaroo works in everything from tacos to pizza. (K-ROO)Source: K-ROO
Kangaroo, Paul West's favourite native ingredient, is healthy, sustainable and easy to cook - here's how you can give it a go.
By
Paul West

13 Sep 2017 - 3:03 PM  UPDATED 5 Aug 2019 - 1:10 PM

Australia is a vast and ancient continent and one that has supported human life for at least 30,000 years. With incredible geographic diversity, spread over millions of square kilometres, one can only imagine the myriad of food stuffs that have been hunted, gathered and cultivated on this continent over the millennia. It’s clear that European colonisation and the subsequent effects on the Indigenous populations and sensitive ecologies has meant that some of that knowledge and abundance has been lost to history. The knowledge that did survive has been largely ignored by much of modern Australia, though happily it appears that attitudes are slowly changing.

I am by no means an authority on Indigenous ingredients, though I have had the pleasure of learning from a handful of traditional owners and experimenting in my own kitchen over the years. When pressed as to what my favourite native Australian ingredient would be, choosing is difficult. The pearls of tangy citrus from the finger lime? The sweet, peppery kick of the mountain pepperberry? Or maybe sweet and buttery macadamias?

If I really had to choose a singular ingredient, I would have to go with something that has some substance, an ingredient to build a meal around. With that in mind, my favourite Australian ingredient would have to be kangaroo.

Spicy kangaroo tacos with pico de gallo salsa

Kangaroo tacos put an Australian spin on the Mexican classic.  

 

A staple source of animal protein for Indigenous Australians for countless generations, the various species of kangaroo can be found in almost every corner of the country. It’s a rich source of protein, a great source of zinc and iron and because of the varied diet of a wild animal, incredibly dense in nutrients. Being a meat that is sourced from the wild, kangaroo meat also has low environmental impact.  However, despite these many benefits, kangaroo remains somewhat of a novelty to most Australians. Most of us aren't going to hunt our own, but these days you can easily source your own through a good butcher or may supermarkets. 

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of cooking with kangaroo, here’s a quick guide of the basic cuts and what to do with them:

Tenderloin (fillet)

This is the premium cut of meat from a kangaroo and by far the most tender. Because of kangaroo’s low fat content, it has a tendency to dry out if cooked for too long. To get the best out of the tenderloin, make sure the meat is at room temperature before cooking, then cook the fillet over a high heat. Turn the meat to ensure that it is nicely browned all over and serve as rare as you can handle. Remove the meat from the heat and then allow it to rest before thinly slicing.

Tail

Best broken down into joints for easy management, if you can’t find tail already broken down then ask your butcher to do it for you, or if you’re felling brave have a go at doing it yourself. Kangaroo tail is a tough cut of meat so it benefits greatly from long and slow cooking. I like to brown the joints in the oven and then braise them for hours with red wine and aromatic vegetables. When ready, the meat falls off the bone and the sauce is rich and thick.

Kangaroo tail bourguignon

Serve this Kangaroo tail bourguignon with lashings of mashed potato.

 

Rump steak

My favourite cut of kangaroo to BBQ. Again, bring the cut to room temperature and then season generously with some salt and pepper. Cook on the BBQ over a high heat, allowing 3 to 4 minutes for either side, then remove from the heat and allow to rest. As with the tenderloin, the rump is best served medium rare, and I enjoy mine with some Dijon mustard and some peppery green leaves.

Here's another idea for the barbecue - K-ROO's kangaroo steak sandwich with golden caramelised onions.

 

Paul West is the host of River Cottage Australia, 6.30pm weeknights on SBS Food (Channel 33) then on SBS On Demand.  Learn how to build a DIY bread and pizza oven with Paul here, or find his exclusive recipes for SBS here

Other ways with kangaroo
Kangaroo pizza with beetroot, feta and rocket

This vibrant topping combo puts a spin on the usual meat lover's. 

Kangaroo san choy bow

A lean Australian take on the easy Chinese classic.

Warm couscous and pumpkin salad with dukkah kangaroo fillet

If you're after a sating salad with plenty of protein, you may have met your match. Lean kangaroo meat and roasted vegetables tick the 'healthy' boxes, while mint and coriander pump up the freshness, and dukkah adds a delicious texture.

Kangaroo, salsa verde and chilli sausage rolls

Give your sausage rolls a bit of a 'gourmet' treatment by pairing kangaroo mince with salsa verde. Encased in shortcrust pastry, these meaty parcels are wonderfully moist and more-ish. The salsa is one for your repertoire, too. If you're not in the mood for sausage rolls, serve the herb and caper mixture atop chargrilled meat, roasted potatoes or a simple salad.

Kangaroo rogan josh

The classic Indian curry, rogan josh, gets an Australian feel with the addition of kangaroo. But don't think it's purely a meaty affair! Chickpeas, tomato and spinach add a wholesome quality to the hearty dish. If you're running short on time, the rogan josh curry mix can be substituted with a good-quality supermarket paste. 

Native meats
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If Australians are to eat healthy, unprocessed meats while making sustainable choices, native animals would an obvious choice. But which ones?