Lime-Marinated Scallops with Kangaroo Pastirma

Kangurmali Tarak

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This dish commemorates the pivotal historical event shared by Australia and Turkey, and combines ingredients from these two great cultures. Gallipoli, in northwest Turkey, is a popular scuba-diving area, and a major source of scallops. It is best known to Australians as the site of an attempt in 1915 to secure territory in Turkey, which had joined the First World War on Germany’s side.

Australia’s major public holiday each year is 25 April, which was when the Australian and New Zealand troops (called ANZACs) took part in the ill-fated Allied assault on the Turkish peninsula. They were repelled by the Turks under General Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who went on to create the Turkish republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

When I came to live in Sydney, I was curious to see how kangaroo meat would respond to the drying and preserving process we call pastırma. It turns out that kangaroo works even better than beef, because it’s almost fat-free.

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Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) kangaroo fillets
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) rock salt
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons ground fenugreek
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon hot paprika
  • 8 tarragon leaves
  • 4 mint leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grape molasses
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rakı
  • 12 sea scallops (or 6 large scallops)

Method

Place the kangaroo fillets on a board and, using a sharp knife, remove any sinews. Using a cake rack (or steamer tray or a large colander), cover the rack with muslin (cheesecloth) or a tea towel (dish towel). Place the rack in a baking tray or large pan. You will use this for the drying process.

Mix the rock salt and caster sugar in a bowl. Spread half the rock salt mixture onto the muslin-covered tray, about 1 cm (½ in) thick.

Put the kangaroo fillets in the middle of the rack and thoroughly cover with the rest of the rock salt mixture. Fold the muslin cloth over the top of the salt. Place a flat-bottomed tray over the fillets with a 3 kg (6 lb 12 oz) weight on top (using anything from a case of beer to wine bottles) to flatten out the kangaroo as it dries. Place the baking tray in a cool spot for 2 days, checking occasionally that the accumulated water does not reach the meat.

Unwrap the meat and wash off the salt. Place the meat in a bowl, cover with water and leave to rest for 24 hours.

Remove the meat from the water and pat dry with paper towel. Put the kangaroo on a rack with a drip tray underneath and refrigerate for 24 hours. Turn the fillets over and return to the fridge for one more day.

Next, make the paste. Mix the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, fenugreek, cumin, fennel and paprika in a blender. If the mixture seems dry, drizzle about ½ teaspoon of water into the mix.

Remove the kangaroo from the fridge and coat with the paste, making sure every part is completely covered. Put the kangaroo on the cake rack with the tray underneath, but without the muslin cloth, and return to the fridge for at least another 5 days.

When you are ready to serve, slice through the fillet, diagonally, as thinly as possible (about 1–2 mm/⅓2–1/16)—use a slicer if you have one. Finely chop the tarragon and mint leaves. Put the lime juice in a small bowl and mix in the mint, tarragon, white pepper, grape molasses, olive oil, rakı and the remaining sea salt. Slice the scallops into rounds about 1 cm (½ in) thick, and rest them in the marinade for 2 hours.

Divide the scallop slices among four plates, top each with a slice of kangaroo and serve.