a special gift

Warning to animal activists, vegetarians, equestrains or horse-lovers: sensitive material ahead

We were given a special gift. A Hui (pronounced hway) friend gave Justin a kilo of horse meat (马肉 mǎ ròu) which his sister had given him. It was nicely wrapped in a plastic grocery bag. What a nice gesture...we thought. When Justin got home – he tasted a small piece. It was smoked & salty - for preservation purposes, but not cooked thru. Since this is the first time I have ever seen, let alone cooked horse meat - I scoured the web for some exciting recipes, and information about this new delicacy. I could make horse meat stew, horse meat fajitas, smoked horse meat for sandwiches, horse burgers, BBQ horse steaks, deep fried horse meat, horse meat salami, sauteed horse meat with wine, and even horse meat sushi!!

Now, before you freak out about us eating Mr. Ed or Black Beauty - I will have you know that many cultures have eaten horse meat for centuries, and it’s common practice across many European countries (Italy, Sweden, Germany, France), much of South America and many Central Asian nations as well. I just read that you cook it just like you’d cook beef/venison – but its even more nutritious. Anyhow, I will refrain from any debate on the humane-ness of eating meat from any animal. We are being culturally appropriate! There is a small minority of Kazakh people in our city, and horse meat/horse sausages are very common in their diet.

Horse meat is very tender and doesn’t take long to cook. I read that it is best to sear it quickly, and reduce the heat until cooked thru. It can be grilled, roasted, sautéed or pan-fried, with similar seasonings that you’d use with beef (tarragon, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, mustard, peppercorn, garlic). Horse meat has the inconvenience of being extremely fragile so it is easily contaminated, particularly when ground. Most often, horse meat is vacuum-packed (but not in our case!). The flavor is stronger than beef, with an insistent sweetness & tang.

Nutritional value
Horse meat is rich in protein, iron & glycogen and is very low in fat and cholesterol. It is very high in Omega3. It has been found to have 40% fewer calories and 50% more protein that the leanest beef. The deep red color attests that it is very iron-rich. Horse meat is ideal for people requiring more iron: pregnant women, people who are anemic or athletes undergoing intensive training.

I will write again to share the outcome of this delicacy. I am not sure if I am excited yet or not. Maybe a little nervous. We plan to have a friend come over and teach me....