What the whitetail deer is to the American South, the kangaroo is to Australia. Despite the fact that they’re both relatively large animals that appear exotic from afar, they’re very common in their native regions. In some areas, they’ve become so common that they’re almost considered pests. Local government often encourages people to hunt the animals and, in both cases, the resulting meat is lean and delicious.
Australian chef Matt Basford of Canoe is doing his part to combat kangaroo overpopulation in his homeland by serving a kangaroo dish so tasty that you’ll want to order seconds. According to Basford, the venerable Vinings restaurant goes through 70 pounds of kangaroo loin a week.
In typical Canoe form, Basford’s peppercorn-crusted kangaroo is clever, elegant and well-executed. The accoutrements for the kangaroo are gathered from the western edge of the Pacific Rim: crisped noodles, wasabi edamame hummus and ginger shoyu give a nod to Southeast Asia and Japan.
The kangaroo itself is much like venison when expertly prepared — very tender, despite its leanness, and not overly gamey. Cooked rare, the outside of the kangaroo loin is generously crusted in salt and cracked peppercorns. The straightforward preparation is balanced by the more playful flavors on the plate — a little sweetness from the ginger shoyu, some tingling from the wasabi. And, while it’s listed as an appetizer, it easily could stand in for a light entree, if you’re having other courses.
If you’d like to try something new, and you’re a fan of red meat, Canoe’s peppercorn-crusted kangaroo is just the thing. Not to mention, Basford and his countrymen will thank you for your help with the kangaroo population — there must be a reason a group of them is called a mob.
Canoe. 4199 Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 770-432-2663, canoeatl.com.