The only contact most of us have ever had with a yak is at the zoo, so how are we going to feel if it ends up on our plate?
Well, let's think about it this way: Have you ever enjoyed a bison burger hot off the grill? How about buffalo chili? Yes? Then to you, eating this big shaggy beast doesn't seem scary in the slightest.
In fact, yak meat is actually becoming quite popular among health-conscious consumers, who like it because -- similar to bison -- it's 95 to 97 percent lean, low in fat and cholesterol, and packed with protein.
So what's the best way to eat yak?
Yaks are from the bovine family; as such, their meat has a sweet, subtle, beef-like flavor and a savory aroma when cooked. Some people actually prefer it to other lean meats because it stays juicy when you cook it and doesn't dry out. Plus, it doesn't taste overly gamy.
Also similar to other game animals, yak meat is sold ground, in patties, steaks, even roasts and is typically priced anywhere from $6 to $12 a pound. You can brown the ground meat to use in dishes like lasagna, pizza, or chili; throw steaks on the grill; or slow-cook the roast in the Crock-Pot. Here are a couple good yak recipes from Vermont Yak Company:
1. Yak Burgers
- 1 lb. ground yak
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely minced onion
- Salt & pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and form into 4 burgers. Grill over low heat.
2. Chipotle Yak Chili
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion
- 2 lb. ground yak
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1 can black beans (optional)
- 1 t. salt, or to taste
- 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 t. ground cumin
- 2 t. dried oregano
- 3 T. chopped fresh cilantro
Brown the garlic, onion, and ground yak in the olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro. Simmer partially covered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
So, go ahead -- try yak! (Just make sure you buy the meat from a source you know and trust to treat their yaks healthfully, humanely, and sustainably -- your local farmers' market is a great place to find a resource near you.)
Would you eat yak?
Image via hrlndspnks/Flickr