anybody had seal meat [moved from Quebec board]
Has anybody tasted seal meat, and what are your impressions--worth the experience. It is
reported to be tender and similar to duck. I am interested in cooked versions only!
Enjoyed it a few weeks ago (as well as last year) at Au Cinquième Péché: "a trippy starter of *loup de mer*, which is not Atlantic wolffish but a euphemism for Magdalen Island seal. $13 gets you a long rectangular plate with seal four ways: a cromesqui; smoked meat; tataki-style; and a salad of sliced radishes, salicorne and a pepperoni-style sausage. Each was expertly executed and together they give a good idea of the range of this overlooked, savoury -- and totally non-fishy -- dark red meat."
Interesting that chef Lenglet compares it to duck. It strikes me as closer to game meat, a cross between, say, bison (in terms of flavour, though deeper) and caribou (in terms of texture, though firmer). It's very dark, very tender and very delicious. If it were available in a butcher shop, I'd gladly prepare it at home. Odd that no retailer's bringing this rare, regionally produced, lean, organic meat into town; I expect there'd be a viable niche market for it and it'd certainly take up some of the slack created by the European ban.
I was given some seal meat when I lived in Alaska by the mother of a lad whose father was Alaskan Native and therefore entitled to subsistence hunting. It had been frozen when I got it, and I was still pretty young (this was around 20 years ago, maybe a bit less than that) and didn't have the experience with cooking or the resources for research I have now, sooo....
I stewed it, low and slow, the way I would have done a roast of similar size. Onions, carrots, herbs, salt, pepper. It was -very- fatty, and had a very strong, gamey odor/flavour. It wasn't at all like duck. I didn't really prepare it properly, I know, and so it was much tougher than I'd expected. I'm sure I used the wrong cooking method. It probably would have benefited from being accompanied by a very intensely flavoured fruit sauce of some sort, to help relieve some of the gamey-ness.
I'd try it again if I got some from someone who was a subsistence hunter, and this time I'd poke around more for better ideas how to prepare it. :)
I don't eat meat any more, so I wouldn't try it now, but I did eat it once as a child, from what I can recall. It was either canned or bottled at the time, and I had a taste from Dad, who would eat everything under the sun. I remember a strong taste to it.
Despite the bad rap that the east coast Canada seal hunt gets, people do actually eat it there, and not only up north. I think there's a sense that the seal hunt is for fur only, and that it's inhumane. I know plenty of people who love flipper pie, and seal are hunted no differently than any other animal, with the exception that it takes place out on a snowy white ice pan for the world to see.
Anyway that mini-rant aside, i'm glad to see people discussing this, and not being hypocritical about it in general, even though I don't eat meat myself.
Also, from what I gather, in order to remove the fat and some of the stronge gamey taste, it's soaked in baking soda or something.
BTW, if you ever find yourself in Newfoundland, Bidgood's supermarket sells all sorts of game and fish products, including stuff like seal sausages, as well as moose / caribou / game birds etc.