When you imagine jerky, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that it’s an exclusive arena for specialty dried beef. Of course, beef is the go-to meat when it comes to jerky, but there is in fact an entire and bizarre world of jerky that you’re missing out on if you limit yourself only to the idea of beef.
That’s not an oxymoron, but a real and very meat-free alternative to traditional jerky. Plant based jerky is a natural source of protein, typically made with hearty and protein-rich veggies like tomatoes, mushrooms, beetroot, and zucchini, among others. It’s made in a similar process that creates that much-loved bitey and flavorsome experience that everyone wants from a good jerky.
You might never have known this, but alligator meat is actually among the more popular alternatives to beef for those who can’t resist a good meat jerky. Alligator is particularly good because it’s so rich in protein, as well as being very lean and therefore relatively low in calories.
The typical choice of cut when it comes to alligator jerky is the tenderloin meat, which is then flavored using various seasonings but then smoked in the traditional hickory-type fashion.
Seeing that alligators can be used to make great jerky perhaps sparked your imagination into thinking what other animal meat makes good jerky. The first candidate is the humble duck. Duck jerky is often marinated before smoking to create complementary flavors that really set off the natural richness of the meat. Wild ducks raised free from any kind of hormonal or steroid interference always result in the best-quality jerky products.
Yes, even the humble roo of Australia is a prime candidate for great jerky meat. Outside Australia, it’s considered extremely exotic, but of course, within Australia, it’s more pedestrian. Kangaroo meat is pretty lean but very high in protein, as well as iron and omega 3 fatty acids. It converts into a superb jerky, especially when marinated in soy with garlic, brown sugar, garlic, and onion, among a few special other ingredients.
Another lean alternative to beef is the ostrich, whose meat is actually quite a similar red color to beef, which is surprising to some who’ve never tried it before. As with other meats in this list, ostriches that are raised naturally without growth hormones or steroids will always make the best-quality jerky in the end. It can be seasoned in a very similar way to the kangaroo jerky for a great taste, so those not overly keen on eating roo meat can enjoy ostrich instead with the same great spices and seasonings.
Yes, jerky can even be applied to the world of fish. Three fish in particular that make for great-tasting jerky are tuna, salmon, and rainbow trout. If you want to give yourself a boost in protein in a healthier way, as well as increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids, then fish jerky just might be that thing you’ve needed all along.
Different fish are often prepared in different ways, though. Salmon is most often soaked in brine and cold smoked, whereas the trout and tuna varieties benefit from more Japanese-style attention with miso tamari before being hickory smoked. Regardless of how it comes, it’s a tasty and toothsome alternative to beef jerky.
The List Goes On
You won’t be surprised to learn that there’s barely an animal anywhere out there in the world that jerky-producers haven’t figured out how to season and smoke to perfection. Other varieties include venison, wild boar, turkey, yak, buffalo, and even snake!