Few people are so brave as to try mystery meat. Snake is exotic to people who aren’t familiar with hunting and trapping, and only a certain few stores sell it. Hence, it still has an appeal as one’s first venture into game meat. Read on to learn about what snake meat tastes like and different ways to prepare it.
Does Snake Taste Like Chicken?
The most common quip about snake meat is that it tastes like chicken and it’s “the other white meat,” so naturally, people will want to know if it does. While it can taste similar to chicken, the quip is a joke, and it very much has its unique flavor that is hard to pinpoint. It has been described as resembling that of a frog. Also, the New York Times describes it as a “sinewy, half-starved tilapia.” It is nicknamed “desert whitefish” for that same reason. Most importantly, snake meat tastes like whatever the snake ate in life. Snakes that eat insects have a flavor that reminds people of crickets and grasshoppers, while water snakes have a flavor more like fish. Some people claim that snake meat generally has a taste between chicken and fish.
Snake meat is chewy and a little stringy, and its flavor also depends on how it is cooked. If you cook it like chicken or fish, it will taste a little like either. You won’t be fooling anyone, though.
Snakes Most Commonly Eaten
You can eat any type of snake, but the most popular snake that people most often choose to eat in the wild is the rattlesnake. Its diet is mostly rodents, plus insects and smaller reptiles. The meat has an earthy or gamey taste similar to alligator meat, with flesh that’s white and a little rubbery to the touch. But in terms of meat more people are familiar with, it’s described as a little similar to quail, more so Cornish game hen, and most like pork.
Another tasty snake is the diamondback, a species of rattlesnake and a type of pit-viper. It has a less gamey taste but again, it’s excellent when cooked over an open fire. The eastern diamondback is the longest and heaviest venomous snake in North America and the second longest rattlesnake after the western diamondback. These two species will give you the most meat.
Much less often eaten are the common garter snakes, rat snakes, copperheads, and water moccasins (cottonmouths). They generally don’t taste good and have far less meat. Water moccasins taste the worst and are repulsive regardless of the number of seasonings you use.
How Do You Prepare, Cook, and Eat Snake Meat?
How you prepare and cook the snake meat will, of course, affect its taste. Prepare the snake first by cutting off the head, removing the entrails, and skinning it. Cut the meat into chunks three to four inches large. You are now ready to cook the snake meat in one of several different ways.
Cooking it over an open fire was the method taught by cowboy culture. The most popular way to eat snake meat is by deep-frying and putting it into a tortilla, like a burrito or a taco. There are a few other ways of cooking snakes indoors that are less rustic and appropriate for more formal occasions, such as baking. Outdoors, however, cooking over an open fire is the only way to go. Grilled, deep-fried, pan-fried or sauteed, and braised or boiled are all possible options.
You have the option to season snake meat before you grill it. If you’re deep-frying it, it’s popular to dredge it in seasoned cornmeal or flour. Marinate the meat first before pan-frying or sauteeing with butter, garlic, and onion. And when boiling or braising it, you don’t want to forget potatoes, carrots, and onion.
There are some dangers in eating snake meat. One of the dangers is in catching it, so you’ll want the help of someone who is experienced in catching venomous snakes, and never try to catch one barehanded. Another danger is that even when they’re dead, venomous snakes have venom in the fangs, so care should always be taken to dispose of the head. Finally, it has tiny bones that present a risk of choking while eating the meat.
Common Snake Recipes
One of the best deep-fried snake meat recipes involves first frying bacon. Use the drippings in the pan along with 3/4 cup of oil to deep-fry the chunks of snake meat after you bread them with seasoned flour. If you’d like, you can eat the fried snake with bacon, biscuits, and gravy. You can use this recipe indoors or outdoors. It serves two to three people.
For baked rattlesnake with cream sauce, you’ll prepare the cream sauce first. Melt one tablespoon of butter over low heat and then add one tablespoon of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper, cooking until they’re combined. Add one cup of half-and-half or whole milk and raise the heat to medium, stir until it bubbles, and then remove it from the heat. Add the snake meat chunks to a casserole dish and top them with the cream sauce. Add four ounces of sliced mushrooms, one thinly sliced lime, and one teaspoon each of white pepper, basil, and rosemary. Cover the dish and bake at 300 degrees for one hour or until tender. It serves two to three people.
Where is Snake Meat Popular?
Snake is a popular source of protein in some parts of the world, where they are an everyday part of the culture and even common pests. Opportunism strikes and motivates people to take advantage of a new food source despite its dangers. When people are living in the wild, they too will eat any animals that are available to them. In China, they most often eat snake soup recipes with python or water snake. The indigenous people of Australia have bush meats that include snakes, especially python. In the southwestern United States, rattlesnakes are on the menu.
Snakes don’t look very appetizing, yet people eat them anyway. Snake meat has protein, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, B1, and B2, but with fewer calories and fat than the same size of sirloin beef steak. It has achieved a cult-like status because it’s wild, tasty, and a favorite meal from cowboy culture that appeals to many outdoorsy people, though it’s not for everyone. People that enjoy fish and especially frog and alligator meat are likely to enjoy snake meat.