Meat lovers often don’t get many options to choose from. Chicken, beef, mutton, lamb - every recipe keeps cooking these four anywhere you go. While these may be very common names around the world, if you go beyond the border you will hear names like deer, hippo, etc. Hippo meat is usually very uncommon.
Only a few lucky ones got to taste this delicious meat so far. It is easy to wonder what it tastes like. Some compare it to beef a lot. While it does have the same meat fiber and cooks the same way. But it has some superior taste. It tastes gamier, has a tougher texture, and is more flavorful.
One fun fact about it is that it can taste different ways depending on the way it has been cooked. No matter how similar people may say it is to lamb or beef, you need to acknowledge the differences in lifestyles among these animals.
Hippos are way more furious and mostly feed on smaller animals. This food habit created different tastes in their meat and provides more protein. Therefore, if you make up your mind to eat hippo meat, forget the fact that it would taste like anything you've tasted before. To learn more, let's dive deep into details!
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What is a Hippo
Hippos are very familiar worldwide, although they are found in some specific regions. Almost every zoo will have hippos, but they are originally from tropical places, especially native to Africa. They are also known as Hippopotamus Amphibious and are on the list of the most dangerous and aggressive animals in Africa.
Hippos are known to be the third largest mammal in Africa and are very heavy herbivores. They can grow very big about 8000 pounds. They are called vegetarian sharks because of their lethal teeth and how fast they can bite on their prey. But the surprising thing is this hostile animal will look like they are smiling with its mouth open.
The most noticeable thing about these mammals is the amount of time they spend in the water. Their webbed toes help them on the soil and they can run very fast too. They can run at 30 miles per hour which is much faster than a human. Their short legs help them swim through the water body and stay there most of the time.
One fun fact about them is that their DNA has proved to share common semi-Aquatic ancestors with Dolphins and Whales. But unlike them, hippos can live on the land too as they evolved quote long ago.
What Does Hippo Taste Like?
Although it might not be a common thing to eat hippo meat, in Africa where hippos are native, hippos are a popular choice for centuries. The meat itself has a sweet flavor to it.
Since the meat has a very rough texture it takes a long time to absorb the spice. Hence it is mostly not spicy. In order to enhance the flavor and get the spice in, it is better to keep it marinated overnight. It is mostly cooked by grilling or smoking and in both cases marinating has been the best way to cook.
One special thing about hippo meat has it has way more fat added to it than other types. Which is once you cook it, will release the oil and make the texture juicier. Unlike beef, it will not need added butter or oil, if you decide to grill it too. The healthy part about hippo meat is that it contains less cholesterol. The reason why might surprise you.
Cattle are often fed a special diet to make them gain weight. But as hippos are wildlife animals they are not fed corn diets. Instead, they feed on natural food habits. Which makes their meat healthier and tastier. The taste will also be similar to some other common meat but heavily depends on the cooking style.
One thing to remember here is that it might not be appealing to a lot of people even though it is called tastier. The distinctive flavor and taste will be a hit or miss.
Cooking Tips for Hippo Meat
Since the meat is very tough, it is often served as steak or ground. If you cook it with subtle seasoning, then the flavor will be similar to that of pork. On the other hand, cumin seeds will bring a flavor that is found in deer meat.
Therefore, how you cook it dictates the taste of the meat. We have already discussed marinating the meat overnight. On top of that, you can try to use some acidic sauce like soy sauce. It helps break down the protein and that softens the meat. It will also help absorb the spice easily. The second technique is to boil the meat.
Then add some vegetables like carrots, broccoli, potatoes, onion, garlic, and spices like salt, pepper, etc. It will enhance the flavor and make the meat soft and tender to eat. Stews will taste like lamb. You can add some crackers and cheese to this dish to make a complete meal.
Are Hippos Endangered
One thing to keep in mind before you plan on feasting hippo meat, is that the meat is very rare in North America, Europe and it is also illegal. Historically hippos were eaten in north America too in the 20th century to fulfill the growing meat demand.
However, because of their aggressive nature and the number of hippos, it wasn’t a feasible solution. Today, the number of hippos isn’t considered endangered but they are on the verge. The number of wild large hippos is around 130-140 thousand.
Some specific species are as rare as 2000 in number. These numbers indicate that there aren’t enough hippos in the wild let alone in the meat market. According to the guardian, hippos have been considered endangered recently in 2022. Large hippos are considered vulnerable which means they are about to be endangered.
The reason for this isn’t just for their meat but also for their teeth. Considering the situation it is not only illegal to eat hippo meat but also ethically questionable. However, some African countries with flexible laws or loopholes still sell hippo meat. As it is rare and tasty the meat sells out very fast as well. Even if you can’t get hippo meat easily, you can get a Melissa & Doug Giant Hippopotamus stuffed hippo animal here!
However, the taste might be, considering the current situation of their population hippos is illegal in most countries. And the reason is completely valid. Before you buy them online or from other markets, try to look into the recent local law.
In Africa, it is not as uncommon to eat hippo. But it is not considered a delicacy either. Some might get away through the loopholes of law, but to save them from getting endangered it is important to avoid eating them as much as we can. Also, before eating, health conditions should be considered as well.
As an exotic animal, hippos need to be cooked through and well. Otherwise, serious health hazards might be imposed because of the serious germs that wild animals carry.