Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, and lamb meat – are just some examples of what people typically think of when it comes to meat.
But what about hippos? Do people eat them? What does Hippo taste like?
The answer may surprise you.
While hippo meat is not commonly found on dinner tables in the West, it is a staple in some parts of Africa.
So, if you’ve reached a point where you feel like it’s time to get a little adventurous with your taste buds, you might consider giving Hippo a try.
Read on to explore its taste and texture, how to cook with it, and if it’s legal to eat hippo meat.
What is Hippo?
The Hippo is a large, four-legged mammal that typically inhabits rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water in Africa.
These animals are classified as herbivores, which means they primarily eat plants.
However, in recent years, researchers have found that it isn’t uncommon among hippos to eat meat – including dead animals and fish.
While hippos are regarded as one of the most dangerous animals, twice as deadly as lions, they are also one of Africa’s most popular tourist attractions.
Despite their bulky bodies, they have a strong prey drive and easily hunt.
So, people often wonder what they might taste like.
Well, hippos are commonly eaten in West Africa and sold as an expensive delicacy across northeastern Congo.
What Does Hippo Taste Like?
Hippo, short for Hippopotamus, has a distinct taste when looked at from a culinary perspective.
Their meat encompasses everything from sweet to savory, backed with a firm texture.
The closest they taste like is beef.
But hippos are more flavorful and somewhat gamey.
Marinating the meat and combining it with a long simmer is a trick to bringing out all their flavors and aroma.
But are there any other reasons besides its unique taste that make people crave hippo meat? The answer is yes, and the meat is packed with all sorts of nutrients you could never have imagined.
Seeing the physical nature of this giant animal, you might assume that their meat must be full of fats.
But it is not so; hippo meat contains only a little amount of fat and cholesterol and instead provides you with much protein.
So, this wild meat may very well be a healthy choice if you live in an area where hippos are abundant and legal to eat.
And you also needn’t worry about risking your health to try this delicacy.
It can be prepared in almost the same way as beef and lamb.
But you need a longer cooking time to bring out all the flavors and make the meat tender.
Compared to the much similar beef, hippo meat wins on a large scale.
It has a distinct marbling, satisfying texture, and deeper flavor.
Also, if you choose to caramelize the meat, you’ll find that the glaze and juiciness cannot be compared to any other meat.
Is It Illegal to Eat Hippo Meat?
Now that you know hippo meat is safe for consumption, you might want to try it.
But before you do, it’s essential to know that some legalities are involved in consuming this meat.
In many countries, hippo meat is illegal to hunt and consume, as these animals are considered endangered.
For instance, it doesn’t align with the law to sell or purchase hippo meat in America.
However, in many parts of Africa, people still actively hunt down hippos and enjoy the meat regularly.
If you’re ever in and around one of these areas and want to try hippo meat, make sure you research ahead and obtain the necessary permits.
Currently, legally harvested animals in Africa can only be shipped to Europe and Canada, including hippo meat.
So, the chances of finding them in the US are very slim.
But if you do get your hands on hippo meat, here are some tips on cooking it.
Due to its thick nature, hippo meat is best cooked slowly over low heat.
It’ll help prevent the meat from drying out and becoming tough.
One of the simplest ways to cook hippo meat is to braise it.
This method involves browning the meat in a pan before slowly cooking it in water, stock, or wine.
Another option is to stew the meat.
Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks.
Add it to your favorite broth with veggies, herbs, and spices, and simmer until the meat become tender.
Hippo meat may raise general concerns about risking biodiversity, and although eating hippos is illegal in most places in the world, they are still consumed.
In places where the meat is sold, people don’t even waste a minute buying them.
They are sold out before news reaches every part of the community.
So, if you ever get a chance to try this savory meat of the wild, take your chance to relish in the goodness of new food.
You might just like it and even find a new way to describe the meat at its best.