A year and a half ago I added a crocodile recipe that I developed between North Queensland and Dubai.
It morphed into a well-rounded dish, and by the time I had moved to Thailand we were enriching it with nam prik pao black chili jam, pureed ancho chilli and a little smoky chipotle.
Fast forward, and we're using some new and exciting crocodile recipes on the menu again.
I found a supplier farming crocodile in Ho Chi Minh City with very high standards, certification and a top product.
Tail meat and fillet are both available, so first to go on the menu will be my hugely popular samosas, followed by some skewers for the 'wild side' tasting plate.
The samosas that I used to make have changed from using commercial spring roll pastry and diced mango to a homemade Asian curry puff/samosa dough with a salted mango and lime dipping sauce.
It's refreshing to look back and see things change through time and evolve as we chip away the unneccessary and enhance/expand the key elements.
After 25 years of cooking, that really is the key to it all – trimming it back to the minimum and ramping up the soul or heart of the dish. And I'm still learning to do exactly that.
These crocodile samosas (above) are the easiest thing in the world.
You need one pack of crocodile meat or alligator meat. About 500 grams is average, and it should be either very fresh, or frozen solid in a well sealed pack with no traces of freezer burn.
It goes rancid quickly, so avoid chilled stuff that has been sitting in a fridge with a few days age on it.
The sauce is creamy and lemony, and the sipping sauce is a play on the classic Vietnamese table condiment of salt, ground black pepper and lime juice that is served with most meals here. We added fresh mango and bashed it up with the mortar and pestle, and it's a marriage made in heaven.
Crocodile meat samosas with creamy lemongrass filling
500g crocodile or alligator tail meat
40ml oil (for searing)
200g cream cheese
20g finely diced and pureed lemongrass
6ea kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded then chopped
40g crispy fried shallots
2g salt and pepper (to taste)
Homemade samosa pastry
- Dice the crocodile meat into small dice. About 3-5mm is perfect.
- Heat a heavy frying pan and add oil when hot. When it is almost at smoke point, add the diced crocodile or alligator and sear at high heat for 10 seconds. Add lemongrass (must be almost a puree of soft white inner lemongrass) then continue searing and tossing until just cooked and lightly coloured. (No more than a minute or two)
- Season with salt & pepper to taste
- Turn out of the hot pan into a cool container, and cool to room temperature.
- Mix in the cream cheese well until the mix is smooth with no big lumps of cream cheese
- Stir in the finely chopped kaffir lime leaf and the crispy fried shallots
- Chill, and wrap in the samosa pastry, about 10 grams (a raised teaspoon) per piece. The pastry should be rolled quite thin
- Deep fry until golden and crispy, and serve with mango sauce
1/2 cup of ripe mango flesh pounded or pureed with:
salt to taste.
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lime
More crocodile recipes: Below, a couple of teaser shots of dishes we are working on.
BBQ crocodile fillet skewers with lemongrass and kaffir lime sea salt flakes
These are very tasty skewers of crocodile tail meat, barbecued over charcoal or hot rocks, and seasoned with My Khe Beach sea salt flakes infused with lemongrass and kaffir lime.
180g crocodile tail fillet
5g sea salt flakes infused with kaffir lime or lemongrass
You can't buy My Khe Beach salt. Our resort is on the beach, and we make our own salt by filtering and boiling down sea water, then drying it naturally after it thickens to a slurry, stirring every few hours.
But any salt can be infused with spices, herbs or other aromats. Give it a try.
Get an airtight plastic container, such as tupperware. Put sea salt flakes in (your choice)
Add torn kaffir lime leaves and knotted lemongrass., lightly bruised.
Put the lid on and shake for a few seconds.
Shake daily, and after 4-5 days it will be ready
We served this with a really refreshing and memorable salad of:
Shredded fresh coconut meat
Toasted cashew nuts
And then it was topped it off with deep fried taro crisps so we have a few temperatures and textures on the plate.
This one is really nice to eat.
Crocodile tail fillet medallions
Last but not least, we have crocodile tail medallions. Simply marinated in Vietnamese style with oil, lemongrass, shallot, ginger and fish sauce, these are outstanding in taste when grilled over charcoal also.
Marinated crocodile, per person:
180g crocodile tail fillet medallions
30ml peanut oil (or vegetable, sunflower etc)
10g finely chopped lemongrass
20g peeled shallots, chopped/crushed
10g fresh ginger root, peeled, grated & crushed
5ml fish sauce (Phu Quoc Vietnamese or Thai)
1-2g black peppercorns, freshly crushed
3 ea Kaffir lime leaf (deep fry in clean oil at 160C until crispy)
The perfect match for this was a simple salad of freshly diced ripe red tomato tossed with toasted sesame seed and Vietnamese cang kua leaf – a very tasty local salad green with prominent but harmonious flavour.
To make the salad: 3 portions
4 cups Vietnamese cang kua leaf, washed and picked (or a similar tart, refreshing salad leaf)
2 each Medium sized ripe red tomato, 1cm diced, with skin and seeds
1 dsp toasted sesame seeds
30ml shallot oil (oil used for slowly frying shallots)
salt – to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together.
Topping the dish is deep fried kaffir lime leaf which are extremely aromatic and crisp, melting in the mouth after an initial crunch leaving a rich lime flavour.
If you have any feedback or crocodile recipes of your own, leave a comment.
It's a great meat to work with – a texture like pork & frog with a mild, pleasant taste.
In Australia crocodile is an expensive premium game meat fetching $35 or more per kilogram. In Vietnam the quality is the same as the Australian and the cost is under $10.