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Meat: The alternatives

We all have our go-to recipes that are easy to whip up for kids dinners or weekend lunches. If you are tired of trotting out the same meaty recipes each week, here are some different meats to try.

Beef eater?  Try veal

Veal comes from calves of around six to seven months old. It tends to have a lighter colour, a finer texture and a smoother, tenderer taste than beef; it’s also slightly cheaper in Singapore. Try it in osso bucco, for example; one of Italy’s most renowned meat dishes, this Milanese specialty is made of veal shanks cooked in a rich broth with tomato and wine. Salting the meat before cooking makes it even more tender.


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Chicken chooser? Try other birds

One alternative is succulent spring chickens, so small that you’ll need one per person; they’re an interesting option for serving at dinner parties, especially spatchcocked (split open) and grilled. Quails are even tinier, fattier than chicken and tending towards a gamey taste – though Huber’s Butchery carries a variety of quail from France that’s not quite as gamey as others.

Other alternatives are pheasants, guinea fowls and Hungarian ducks, which, according to Greg Hughes, General Manager of The Butcher, tend to be tenderer than local ducks and geese. You can buy frozen ones fairly easily in Singapore.

Another alternative to chicken, although not a bird, is rabbit. In a sauce, you may be hard pushed to tell the difference between the two. Most rabbit meat is frozen and comes from the US (you can get it at Swiss Butchery, for instance). It’s best to cook rabbit meat on the bone, as taking it off first can be tricky, and might leave you with not much meat.



Prefer pork? Try new breeds

A lot of the pork in Singapore comes from Australia, so for a different taste, try Ibérico pork, which comes from the Black Iberian pig. This breed accumulates fat between its muscle fibres, producing a marbled, dark meat that’s very tender – and the loin cuts have lots of flavour. Ibérico pork can cost around 20 percent more than Australian pork, but for a special occasion it may be worth it.

You could also try Japanese Kurobuta pork, which originates from an ancient English breed of pig, the Black Berkshire. Prized for its juiciness, flavour and tenderness, the meat is pink-hued and heavily marbled. Both of these types of pork are readily available in Singapore.

Lamb-lover? Try mutton, goat or kangaroo

If you like lamb, try mutton or goat. In a strong or spicy sauce, like a curry, it can be difficult to tell the difference. So, what exactly is mutton? It’s the meat of an adult sheep, older than a year, whereas lamb meat is from a sheep that’s less than a year old. Mutton tends to have a stronger flavour than lamb, while goat meat is darker than lamb and has an even stronger flavour that can put some people off.

Another alternative is kangaroo meat. According to Andre Huber, Executive Director of Huber’s Butchery, kangaroo has a relatively strong gamey taste, but is very lean and healthy; it’s low in fat and a good source of protein, iron and zinc. Buy it at Huber’s Butchery, or try it at Boomarang Bistro and Bar, where it can be ordered on its own as a peppered kangaroo loin, or as a burger or sliders, and on pizza.

If you’re game, try:

Turtle meat: Depending on what part you’re eating, it can taste like turkey, fish, pork or veal.
Try it at: Old Geylang serves it steamed, stewed or fried.

Crocodile meat: Tastes like a cross between pork and shark meat, rich in protein and lower in cholesterol than chicken.
Try it at: Old Geylang, stir-fried, braised or stewed; or try the tandoor-style croc skewers at Intrepid Gastro Bar; you can also buy crocodile meat at Cold Storage NEX (23 Serangoon Central).

Frog’s legs: High in protein, low in fat, and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and vitamin A, it tastes quite mild, in-between chicken and fish.
Try it at: In frog leg porridge, served at many of the late-night diners in Geylang, in Chinatown and elsewhere.

For more on meat, check out our Go-To guide of meat restaurants in Singapore

This article first appeared in the March 2016 edition of Expat Living magazine Subscribe

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