Ever since I relocated to the Philippines, my meat consumption has decreased significantly. When I moved here in the early 2000's, it was the height of Mad Cow and Foot and Mouth disease scare. Following that, came the Avian flu, or more commonly known as bird flu found in poultry. Being the paranoid, semi-hypochondriac woman that I am, I pretty much avoided all of these types of meat. No chicken, no beef, no pork. I turned to tofu for my main protein source. How I made myself eat this, I have no idea. One thing I learned about this ingredient is: tofu is your waistline's best friend. I must have shed about 12 lbs (5.5 kg) within 2 weeks.
Knotted snake beans
However, inspite of all the benefits that tofu provided, I missed my meat. This is where I discovered ostrich meat. I first tried ostrich meat during the grand opening of Rustan's Fresh Supermarket at the Powerplant Mall in Rockwell. Seeing that I was quite hesitant, the host insisted that I try it, that I won't be disappointed. Not wanting to be rude, I went ahead and took a morsel. Disappointed I wasn't. I was quite surprised how tender and lean the meat was.
Ostrich meat has the same texture and color as beef, except that ostrich is much leaner, tender and lower in fat and cholesterol. It falls into the red meat category as well. As you can see in the photos, it looks like beef as well. Like most lean meats, it's not as flavorful as fatty meats. This is where the ostrich shines in that it lends itself quite well to a variety of marinades. I have marinated this meat in all kinds of marinades, both Asian and Western style. I was rarely disappointed.
This recipe originally called for beef and snow peas (mange tout), however, I had ostrich meat in the freezer and decided to use snake beans ( aka yard long beans) instead. So if you're not ready to try ostrich meat, you may use beef instead.
The marinade is a wonderful collision of flavors of lemongrass, beer, orange zest, chillies and ketchup (I used Heinz). It is tangy, hot, "citrusy" and sweet all at once. A beer-lemongrass aroma will permeate your kitchen when you boil the marinade. Use fresh lemongrass. You will lose quite a bit of flavor if you use dried lemongrass.
Note: there will be quite a bit of variation in taste assuming that you will be using the type of beer that's common in your area. I used the local beer available here.
(adapted from Devagi Sanmugam)
2 1/2 lbs (1 1/4 kg) ostrich meat, sliced into thin strips (beef or pork can also be used)
3-4 tbs oil
Beer Lemongrass Marinade
1 cup (250 ml) beer
1/2 cup (125 ml) tomato ketchup
1/4 cup (60 ml) bottled chili sauce (or make your own)
6 tbsp (89 ml) steak sauce
4 tbsp (59 g) cilantro / coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp (44 g) brown sugar
3 tbsp (44 ml) lemon juice
3 gloves garlic, minced
2 red chillies, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, thick bottom part only, outer layers removed, thin part minced
1/2 tsp (2.4 g) orange zest
1 tsp (5 g) salt
mint leaves for garnish
4 pieces of snake beans (yard long beans), chopped into 2-inch pieces, blanched
(if you choose to tie the snake beans into knots like I did, blanch the whole thing first, knot, then chop)
Tip: Chop the lemongrass last. Fresh lemongrass turns brown and loses its aroma the longer it's exposed to air.
Place all marinade ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Add meat when cooled and mix well. Set aside for at least 3 hours or overnight to marinate.
Drain the marinade and discard when ready to cook.
Heat oil in a skillet and stir fry over medium to high heat for about 3 minutes until the meat is cooked. Transfer to a serving plate, add vegetables. Garnish with mint.
Serve with steamed rice.
Variations: try different types of beer sucha as white beer, Guinness, etc.
use different types of meat such as venison, bison or buffalo meat
Where to get ostrich meat in Manila: Rustan's Supermarket. Look in the freezer section.