Ssäm with Crocodile – Recipe

You are what you eat. 

Ssäm is a Korean dish were cooked ingredients are rolled in lettuce leaves to be eaten. It is a great dish to serve at parties. All you have to do is plate and serve the individual ingredients separately and watch you guests get involved as they build their own rolls by mixing and matching. Make sure to include a number of dipping sauces to add to the flavor dimensions of your dish.

I like using crocodile not for the novelty value, but because it tastes great. But you could use just about any meat for your Ssäm, beef being perhaps the best known and most commonly used.

Being a white meat, crocodile is often compared to chicken or fish, but the truth is, it tastes like neither. It tastes like …. crocodile, off course. The meat, if cooked correctly, has a fine texture and is somewhat sweet. So be gentle with it. It cooks quickly.

One can now buy crocodile meat from a local deli here in Windhoek. It is farmed crocodile, and from younger animals. The meat is from the tail and one can purchase it either on the bone as chops, or deboned as steaks. I remove most of the fat before cooking it, as the fat is quite rich and becomes slightly bitter when charred.

I like serving my crocodile Ssäm with pureed kimchi, Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce made from fish sauce), daikon and carrot pickles, or Naam Jim Khai (Thai sweet chili sauce). But just about any dipping sauce that balances sweet, sour and salty would do.

Ssäm with Crocodile
Ingredients:
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • ½ cup light soy sauce
  • ¼ cup appel juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 teaspoons palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirren
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, steamed or boiled
  • 500 grams crocodile steaks
  • 1 head of lettuce, your favorite kind, washed, drained and leaved
1.Mix all the ingredients except the rice, lettuce and the crocodile and add them to a ziplock bag.
2.Add the crocodile steaks whole to the bag with the marinade and seal tightly. Gently message in the bag for about ten minutes and put in the refrigerator. Leave to marinade over night.
3.Steam or boil the rice according to the instruction on the packet. If you cant find jasmine rice, use basmati.
4.Wash and clean the lettuce and remove the leaves, taking care not to break them.
5.Remove the crocodile from the marinade and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Be careful as the soy in the marinade is salty.
6.Grill or barbecue the crocodile till done. This should no more than seven to ten minutes depending on the thickness of your steak. Take care not to overcook it, it becomes rubbery. Set aside and rest for ten minutes, then cut across the grain into thin slices.
7.To make the Nuoc Cham, mix 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup water, 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 minced clove of garlic and two chillies in a small container to make a dipping sauce. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Take some kimchi (fermented cabbage which you can buy form the local Asian stores) and blend into a smooth paste using a food blender.
8.To assemble and eat, take a whole lettuce leaf and add some rice. Then add a few slices of crocodile and some of the blended kimchi. Fold in the end of the lettuce and roll everything tightly. Dunk in dipping sauce and enjoy!
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One Comment Add yours

  1. Franko Venter says:

    Okay, when shall I come over to have some! No fair posting my favorite dish of yours, and then spicing it up with crocodile! A plan will have to be made…

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