Five Tastiest Non-Farm Animals to Throw on the Barbie This Memorial Day Weekend

grilled lobster
Flickr user Another Pint Please...
As if the Weekly had the budget to buy us lobster...
Tired of the same old burgers and dogs you grill every Memorial Day? Steaks and chicken don't lift your kilt like they used to? Here are some ideas for things to throw on the barbie this weekend that your friends and family will remember for years to come . . . like that time you cracked your drunk skull on the Slip `n Slide and the family spent the holiday in the emergency room. . . .

1. Grilled squid
Fried Pickles
Flickr user Wm Jas
Americans have corn dogs and deep-fried Twinkies at the county fair. Japanese festival booths offer whole squid speared by bamboo skewers. Season with salt and pepper and grill for only a minute on each side, brushing with a teriyaki sauce for flavor. When just barely cooked through, top it with two pats of room-temperature butter.

Get your squid and cuttlefish at Asian markets such as Marukai or Mitsuwa in Costa Mesa, or 99 Ranch Market in Irvine.
  • Marukai, 2974 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-8433.
  • Mitsuwa, 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-6699.
  • 99 Ranch Market, locations in Irvine, Anaheim and Fountain Valley.

2. Venison kebabs
Happy Father's Day
Flickr user dustin_j_williams
Commercially sold venison is harvested from deer that range freely on large ranches. They're not exactly farmed, but not exactly wild, either. As with other four-legged mammals, the meat from the loin is the most tender and appropriate for grilling. With deer and elk, the loin meat is called backstrap meat. Cube these, season, wrap with bacon and roast for 15 or 20 minutes using the method for MOINK balls we covered last week.

Wholesome Choice in Irvine and Anaheim Hills and Green Farm Market in Fountain Valley carry frozen, vacuum-packed venison.

Wholesome Choice, 5755 E La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 779-7000; also at 18040 Culver Dr., Irvine, (949) 551-4111, and
Green Farm Market, 16042 Magnolia St., Fountain Valley, (714) 843-1818.

3. Escargot
escargot with smoking thyme
Flickr user TheMacSystem
One of the only meats you can harvest from your own property, the common garden snail is delicious roasted in a garlic-and-parsley compound butter. If you catch your own snails, keep them in a cool, shaded box for a week with water and rosemary branches. They'll eat the rosemary and self-flavor themselves.

You can also take the easy way out and buy ready-to-cook, butter-stuffed escargot from the meat counter at the Tustin Whole Foods Market. Set them on a flame-proof dish, set up your grill like you did for last week's MOINK balls, and cook until the butter's heated through.

Whole Foods Market, 2847 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 566-7650.

4. Sparrow on a stick
Flickr user nkenji
In feudal Japan, chickens were raised for rich folks to eat. Commoners netted wild birds such as sparrows and ate those instead. In very old-school robatayaki restaurants in Japan, you can order suzume: beak removed, de-feathered, head-on, butterflied little birds. What little meat is on their tiny, hollow crunchy bones tastes like a miniature bite of dark-meat chicken. Their paper-thin skulls crunch pleasantly, reminding you of that scene in The Terminator when a robot heel crushes a human skull.

Where to find it in OC: get yourself a net and DIY. As far as I know, there is no license needed to net wild sparrows, but consult the Department of Fish and Game before you go all Bear Grylls this weekend.

5. Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake and Rabbit sausage
Flickr user kellybone
The trickiest part of cooking a rattlesnake, other than catching one, are the hundreds of hair-like rib bones you'll run into. Reptile meat is practically fat-free and rather tough. It can be grilled quickly for a few minutes, or stewed for a long time to make it tender. Since we're grilling, grinding it into sausage or burgers would be a good route to take.

Where to get it: The closest place to buy rattlesnake-and-rabbit sausage to my knowledge are the two Wurstküche locations in LA. But if you're feeling unfulfilled after nobody went to the emergency room last year, you should know that our local parklands are home to several species of rattlesnakes. But you didn't hear that from me.

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Which is better, frozen squid or fresh squid, for grilling?

Are the Asian markets selling fresh squid, frozen squid, or both?


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you should not eat garden snails - they are not the species of snail sold in restaurants as escargot. additionally, they may have parasites which could have bad side effects on a human host. farmed snails are much safer as their environment and feed are looked after. the snails mentioned are pretty much the only thing on this list which should NOT be eaten unfarmed.


#6: Bison. Delicious. 


noted the drunk skull crack re the slip n my experiences the skull was not drunk merely stupid.  All kidding aside YOU are the best! 


You can get venison at Sprouts as well...


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aren't wild snails full of parasites and other nasty stuff?


Grilled squid is one of the greatest pleasures of life.  Is it the mineral-rich blood?    Don't know, but it's one of the tastiest ocean-dwelling inhabitants you can put over intense heat. 

May I also recommend another multi-arm delicacy: grilled octopus. 

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Sorry for the late delay - these commenting system doesn't send us alerts.

Most of our local markets are selling frozen, thawed squid, unless it's local squid season. Retailers are required to state the country of origin for seafood. Unless it's USA, you can pretty much assume the squid were previously frozen.

There's a lot to be said for seafood that's not just out of the water - fish flesh post-rigor is typically better than fish muscles that are still seized up in rigor mortis

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

I'm seeing... a patio... overlooking the ocean... with a grill... and squids...

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

If parasites scare you, you wouldn't eat lots of things. Notably - shrimp are vectors for all sorts of nasties.

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Octopus are great too. Lots of stuff falls in this category, but i picked these five as a starting point.

Clarence Ouizard
Clarence Ouizard

>May I also recommend another multi-arm delicacy: grilled octopus.

Also, pick-pockets at the LA County Fair -- special booth in back.

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