I post a lot of vegetarian recipes here but we’re not vegetarian. Sometimes we go for ages eating vegetarian, but more because that’s what I feel like cooking and eating and I have all the ingredients I need without going shopping, than for any philosophical reason. If you’ve ever seriously tried to feed yourself out of a garden, you will know that animals – big ones and very little ones – their manure, their grazing and scratching behaviours, their seed dispersal, their pollination, their predation – are part of the system. Turning it into a plants-only system requires some serious and unsustainable artificial inputs and interventions.
You can of course decide not to eat the animals, but you can’t really make them decide not to eat each other. There’s a really stunning video doing the rounds at the moment about the cascade of environmental effects of reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park. To me it says, predators are a good and important part of a biological system – wolves, eagles and sharks are good and necessary.
So I don’t have an ethical problem with eating meat. I do have an ethical problem – a big one – with intensive farming methods that treat animals as if they are commodities, non-living cogs in an industrial process. Killing an animal is a shock. For most of us these days its a rare experience to kill anything bigger than a mouse and even mouse killing methods are designed to distance us from the reality of that little furry body. But if you cruise the permaculture and small farming blogs, you will find that people who do it discover that raising and killing an animal for meat can be done in an honourable way. Without cruelty and with respect. You can’t say that about the bacon or the chicken nuggets in the supermarket.
We’re lucky in Australia that most of our beef and lamb is still free range grass fed. We haven’t yet got into the CAFOs that dominate meat production in USA. I think for most consumers CAFOs are only tolerated because it is possible to pretend they don’t exist. All our kangaroo meat though comes from free range animals grass fed animals, not treated with antibiotics or hormones or fed GM or anything else. There are some macropod species that are threatened, but the ones that are hunted are overpopulated. “These commercially harvested species are abundant over a broad area of Queensland and Australia. None of these species is listed as threatened under Queensland or Commonwealth legislation. They are listed as least concern wildlife under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006.” 1.
I think it’s about as close as we can get in our culture to respectful predation.
Makes two big serves. If you serve it over rice, it can easily go round four.
This comes together really fast once you start cooking, so you are best to get everything assembled and chopped and, if you are serving it over rice or noodles, get it on to cook before you start.
- Thinly slice 300 grams of kangaroo fillet steak. Mix a couple of tablespoons of rice flour or corn flour (corn starch) with a good teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice and toss the meat in it to coat.
- Slice an onion in half top to bottom, then slice it lengthways into fine half moons.
- Grate a big thumb sized piece of ginger, and mix with three or four cloves of crushed garlic and a stem of lemon grass, white part only, finely sliced.
- Julienne about 5 cups worth of vegetables. I used carrots, green beans, leek, capsicum, and pak choi but you could substitute whatever vegetables are in season – snow peas, asparagus, celery, broccoli, kale all work well.
- Finely chop a couple of tablespoons worth of fresh herbs – Thai basil, Vietnamese mint, or coriander all work well.
- In a cup, mix quarter of a cup of stock with a splash of soy sauce or tamari and a splash of rice wine or white wine to bring it up to half a cup of liquid.
When it is all ready to go, put a dash of oil in a wok and get it very hot, then quickly sear the meat in two batches. Remove the meat and add another dash of oil and get the wok hot again. Add the onion, stir until it starts to become translucent, add the ginger, garlic and lemon grass, stir and sear, then the vegetables. Keep them moving for a few minutes, then add the meat back in, then the liquid. Bring it back up to boiling and cook until the vegetables are just crisp tender. Turn the heat off, add in the herbs, stir them through and serve. Chili lovers may like some finely diced chili as a condiment.