It's high in protein, has less than half the fat of beef and is a good source of vitamin E.
Sounds to me a bit like venison, that wonderfully dark and gamey meat from the red deer that controversially populate the coolest hills and glens of Scotland. But no. News just in is that the hottest (if you'll pardon the pun) new ingredient on high-end menus is camel meat.
At least, it is if you live in the United Arab Emirates. The American chef Christopher Kostow of the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, California, is making his Arabian debut at Gourmet Abu Dhabi, a 16-day culinary festival that runs until 19 February (so you still have time to get there but only if you travel by plane). His menu features camel bacon served with rye porridge, seaweed and Brassica mustard and local fish with Napa acorn, celery and black truffle.
He's clearly caught the bug from sampling a new camel meat burger on the menu at the seven-star Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, and the popular camel meat pizza at Olivia's restaurant at the National Exhibition Centre.
When it comes to culinary trends, however, there's nothing new under the sun. For centuries camel meat has been a source of sustenance for Arabia's desert dwellers, which is why there's a local saying that everyone should eat camel at least every 40 days for health and stamina.
Kostow first tasted an authentic camel dish, Hwar ma'a Machboos, at an Arabian wedding feast. The camel was first scrubbed with salt and vinegar before being marinated for 24 hours in an aromatic paste of local spices, including garlic, ginger, green chilli, turmeric powder, cardamom, coriander, white pepper and fresh tomatoes.
And get this. It was next steamed in a stock of bay leaves, cinnamon powder, coriander, cloves, cardamom, onion, celery, black pepper and corn oil in an oversized, 150cm wide and 75cm deep lidded pot, in which the camel was placed on a steam-tray 10cm off the pot's bottom and covered with date palm leaves.
After four hours' steaming, hot charcoal was spread on the metal lid to roast the meat for an hour. The result was "meat that tasted like lamb but less gamey, with a soft texture and unctuous fat".
Seems like an awful fidget, but no doubt camel will soon feature on Western menus.
I'll stick to venison, thanks. Just hope chef doesn't take the hump.
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