Saturday, 4 September 2010

C is for... crocodile skewers with cashew and coconut satay sauce and a chicory and chard garnish


Crocodile skewers with cashew & coconut satay sauce served with a chicory and chard crown.

Although I'd eaten crocodile before at Archipelago's, this is the first time I'd cooked it. It's a funny looking meat in its raw form - somewhere between chicken and fish, which, coincidentally, is just what it tastes like cooked. It's like a sea bass-y chicken, with a slightly firmer texture than chicken and it seemed to get the thumbs up from my excited dinner guests. Most of them had never tried crocodile before and so there was a buzz of excitement mixed with trepidation around the room. One guest  was particularly pleased with the idea of eating crocodile, delicately exclaiming, "I fucking hate crocodiles. Ugly, nasty-looking bastards" while stuffing an enormous forkful of satay dipped meat into her mouth. Another guest squealed with delight, "I can't believe we're going to eat something that could eat us!"

Tamzin from Animal Crackers, has only fairly recently come back to the delicious dark side after 20 years of vegetarianism, so I really did throw her in the deep end by feeding her croc. But she ate it all up without blinking an eyelid and, what's more, she seemed to enjoy it. Which I was particularly heartened by because of the vast expense. I bought the crocodile fillets from Gamston Wood Farm, who have a stall at Borough Market on Fridays and Saturdays, but I think you can also order it online from their website. It was £40 for a small taste of meat each. The crocodile was good, don't get me wrong, but I can't stop thinking how much fillet of beef you could get for that.

2 crocodile fillets, cubed
Salt and pepper
The juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 - 2 tbsp soy sauce

Bamboo sticks soaked in water for 20 mins (I cut them in half with a pair of kitchen scissors and gave each guest 2 skewers)

For the cashew and coconut satay sauce

8 oz/ 200 g raw, unsalted cashew nuts
The juice of 2 limes
1 tin of coconut milk
1 medium red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp light brown sugar
A splash of soy sauce to season
A spoonful of white miso paste

The leaves of 1 red and 1 white chicory, washed
Some washed chard

Generously season the crocodile and place it in a large dish. Add the marinade ingredients, stir and cover the dish with clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then it's just a matter of threading the crocodile on to the bamboo sticks and placing under a hot grill or on a barbecue and cooking for a few minutes on each side or until slightly golden.

To make the sauce, blitz the cashews in a processor until finely ground and place them in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients except for the miso paste. Simmer the satay sauce for 5 to 10 minutes, stir in the miso until it has dissolved, check the sauce for seasoning and serve hot in individual ramekins or custard pots on a plate garnished with the chicory and chard in the shape of a crown, drizzled with oil and lemon or lime juice, and two crocodile skewers.

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