Some people eat some rodents. Some common examples of gnawing and furry creatures consumed as meat are squirrels. Rats are also popular examples of rodents. But can you eat rats knowing that they’re dirty and smelly?
Rats can actually be eaten. However, field and cane rats that are healthy and clean are the kinds that are consumed, not those that live in city sewers. Good-quality rat meat is usually grilled. It’s also not uncommon for rats to be turned into stew in various countries where it’s considered a delicacy.
Continue reading whether you are intrigued or repulsed by the thought of putting rat meat in your mouth.
Believe you me — the consumption of rats is far more common than you think! And it’s exactly for this reason why I urge you to check out the entirety of this post.
Below, I will discuss some of the most important things you need to know about adding rat meat to the diet, ranging from its nutritional profile to the various recipes you may give a try. By the time you get to the concluding paragraph, chances are that you will see those beady-eyed critters in an entirely different way!
Is Rat Meat Safe to Eat?
Rat meat that’s from a rodent whose diet is primarily rice is fit for human consumption. In most instances, the meat product is free of disease-causing microbes, especially if cooked thoroughly beforehand. On the other hand, the brown rat, which is more commonly known as the sewer rat, isn’t safe to eat.
First things first: you can’t just catch, cook and eat just about any rat that you spot.
In parts of the planet where rats are commonly eaten, the ones consumed are those that are very much unlikely to cause food-borne health issues, some of which can be deadly.
Field rats and cane rats — these are rats that are safe to eat. The way they’re called is suggestive of where they can be found and what they eat. Needless to say, they’re nothing like sewer rats living in the city.
Is Rat Meat Good for You?
Nutrition-wise, rat meat is pretty much as good for the human body as most other types of meat. It also contains good amounts of high-quality protein and zero carbohydrates, which makes it ideal for those who are on a weight loss diet. Rat meat also supplies the body with certain vitamins and minerals.
For as long as the rat meat you are about to cook and eat is high-quality and disease-free, you can rest assured that, like other meats you can buy at the grocery store or the market, it’s safe to eat.
An adult rat, which is about 300 grams, contains 650 calories, 33 grams of fat and 63 grams of protein.
These are macronutrients in the said serving of rat and how much of the recommended daily value they provide:
- Calcium: 200%
- Copper: 70%
- Iron: 80%
- Magnesium: 2%
- Manganese: 50%
- Phosphorus: 120%
- Vitamin A: 500%
- Vitamin E: 90%
- Zinc: 60%
Some rat meat benefits include increased lean muscle mass, stronger teeth and bones, sharper vision, reduced inflammation, bolstered immune system and lowered risk for anemia and osteoporosis.
What Does Rat Meat Taste Like?
The oil secreted by rats gives rat meat a distinctive taste. Although cooking can make it less pronounced, it does not go away completely. Most people agree that rat meat is quite pungent and gamey in taste. Depending on the kind and habitat, rat meat can also taste like rabbit, squirrel or chicken meat.
Grilling is perhaps the most basic way to cook rat meat. And opting for this cooking method allows you to enjoy the taste of rat meat at its purest and most intense.
It’s a good thing that rat meat can be cooked in a few other ways, too.
Blending rat meat with other meats can make it less distinctive. Similarly, adding all kinds of herbs and spices to it can reduce the unmistakable rat taste. In a few, I will give you a handful of rat meat recipes, some of which are traditional in countries where rat meat is regarded as a delicacy — so don’t stop reading now!
What Does Rat Meat Smell Like?
There’s no other way to bluntly describe the smell of rat meat more than it smelling like rats. Such is because of the oil that rats naturally secrete, which can affect both the odor and taste of rat meat. Different people describe rat meat differently smell-wise. Some say it’s like urine, while others say it’s like tortilla chips.
As earlier mentioned, the taste of rat meat is comparable to game meat and, in some cases, chicken.
But one whiff and you won’t be able to deny that what you are smelling is rat meat. Fortunately, cooking the meat of rats makes the unmistakable odor less distinctive.
It’s partly for this reason why, in places where it’s consumed on a regular basis, aromatic herbs are commonly added to rat meat in order to make it more pleasing to the senses and thus more palatable.
What Color is Rat Meat When Cooked?
Rat meat is pinkish-red when raw, closely resembling lamb. When cooked, rat meat is golden brown in color just like most other meats. When cut into small pieces or shredded, cooked rat meat can be easily mistaken for chicken, quail or rabbit meat. Ground rat meat looks like any generic ground meat.
Just one word of advice: even though you are preparing rat meat that’s fit for human consumption, it’s still important that you cook it thoroughly. This is to kill any microbe or parasite that may be in it.
Like most meats, the internal temperature of rat meat should reach at least 160°F (71°C).
As mentioned earlier, rats are commonly grilled, which is common among survivalists — so, yes, you can eat rats in order to survive in the wilderness. And when grilling rat meat skewered on the stick, make sure that the meat is cooked thoroughly. If some parts are still pinkish-red, it’s a good idea to hold it over a fire longer.
By the way, if raw rat meat looks yellowish or greenish, it may be diseased or already rotting.
What Countries Eat Rats?
It’s probably in China and India where the most rats are consumed. This is especially true since rat meat is considered street food and the star of the menus of certain festivals there. Many other Asian countries serve rat meat. It’s also eaten by some people in Australia and certain parts of Europe and the US, too.
Rat meat is consumed in more countries and more people than you might think. Just check out this short list of places where you may come across people who are eating it:
- China – Easily, you can run into street food stalls selling grilled rats.
- India – A tribe in the country celebrates an annual feast serving a special rat stew.
- Australia – Many aboriginal people in the land grill rat meat.
- New Zealand – The Maoris preserve rats and cook them on special occasions.
- Vietnam – Because there are many rice fields around, it’s no wonder that there are also lots of field rats.
- Thailand – Especially in city outskirts, rat meat is commonly sold in eateries.
- France – Wine cellar rats are considered delicious as they eat grapes and drink spilled wine.
- England – Traditionally, only the rich feast on rat meat.
- Mexico – In the state of Zacatecas, rat stew called caldo de rata is a staple.
- US – American survivalists and many West Virginia residents are no strangers to eating rats.
Rat Meat Recipes
Besides being totally safe to eat, field and cane rats are also versatile proteins. As a matter of fact, they can be cooked in many different ways, capable of complementing an assortment of cooking ingredients. While it is commonly grilled in the streets and in the wild, rat meat can also be stewed, curried and more.
Skinning — this is one of the most important things to do before cooking a rat.
It’s just like skinning a squirrel or rabbit, although you will have to be very careful because of its size. Besides skinning, you should also carefully remove the innards and wash the rat thoroughly.
Below, you will come across some quick ideas on rat meat recipes. See which of the following culinary recommendations can make rat meat go from yucky to yummy in your eyes:
- Grilled rat – Nothing can make you feast on rat meat more by skewering it and cooking it over a flame. To make it more palatable, you may rub it with the herbs and spices of your choice beforehand.
- Fried rat – Rubbing rat meat with salt and pepper and then covering it in breading makes for some of the crispiest and most delicious deep-fried rats that go very well with beer and fizzy types of wine.
- Rat curry – Whether you prefer cooking curry using curry powder or getting your hands on the various essentials, from cloves to cinnamon, curried rat meat can be an exotic treat with a complex flavor to enjoy.
- Rat stew – There are many ways to cook rat stew. In West Virginia, for instance, rat is boiled in broth and simmered together with garlic, wild onions and a bunch of locally grown vegetables.
- Braised rat – A hearty braised dish can result from cooking rat meat and sauteed veggies such as onions, leeks, carrots and potatoes in a sauce made with white wine, tomato sauce and broth or stock.
To prepare rats for grilling, you need to find good rat meat and skin them properly. Skinning rats is very similar to skinning other animals, only you have to be a little more careful since they are smaller. And as long as the rat meat is not diseased or rotten, it’s good for grilling.
The best ways to find good rat meat are how it looks and how it smells. High quality rat meat looks very similar to rat meat. It has a pinkish red color to it when it’s raw, and has a golden brown color when it’s cooked.
If the rat meat is a vibrant pink color when raw, then it’s likely high quality rat meat. Poor quality or diseased rat meat usually has more of a yellow or green tinge to it, and is duller than good rat meat.
But the clear difference between good rat meat and bad rat meat is the smell. Good rat meat still smells like rat meat. Rats secrete an oil that smells similar to urine, but it’s less intense after rats are skinned and cooked.
However, no amount of cooking will be able to get rid of the smell. Rotten or diseased rat meat smells like decomposing meat, and you’ll usually be able to distinguish the good meat from the bad.
Skinning a rat is the next step to preparing rats for grilling. The steps to skinning a rat include the following:
- Lay it on a slight incline
- Make a cut starting from the tail and ending at the chin
- Cut down the inside of each leg joint
- Carefully peel the skin off
While you are skinning the rat, make sure no internal organs come into contact with the meat. If this happens, then the meat will turn rotten quickly. The easiest way to avoid this is to take out the organs and put them in a separate container as you go.
Related Article: Can Cedar Planks Be Reused?
There are multiple different ways to grill rats, and each one comes from a different country. Grilling rats usually consists of brushing it with some kind of marinade or sprinkling some spices on it, and then serving it on a stick.
If you need to grill rat for survival or don’t have any other ingredients on hand, then it’s recommended to stick something through them and cook them over an open fire. The rat meat on its own is considered to be nutritious and taste good, as long as it’s fully cooked. You know the meat is finished when it starts taking on a light brown or golden color.
Depending on the country you get it from, rats are grilled with different ingredients. For example, the most common way to grill rats in China is to cook them on spits over an open fire. The rats are often brushed with a Moonshine glaze and some spices, then served on a stick as street food.
In European countries, rats are grilled over an open fire made from old wine barrels. The rats might also be brushed with a wine glaze, and the majority of rats often ate stray grapes or wine spills. Europeans considered these rats to be especially delicious, and it’s a favorite delicacy in some European countries.
Bordeaux Grilled Rats
Skin and eviscerate rats that live in wine cellars. Brush with a thick sauce that combines olive oil and crushed shallots. Grill over a fire of broken wine barrels.
Stewed Cane Rat
Skin and eviscerate the rat and split it lengthwise. Fry until brown in a mixture of butter and peanut oil. Cover with water, add tomatoes or tomato purée, hot red peppers, and salt. Simmer the rat until tender and serve with rice.
Skin, gut and wash some fat mice without removing their heads. Cover them in a pot with ethyl alcohol and marinate for 2 hours. Dice a piece of salt pork or sowbelly and cook it slowly to extract the fat.
Drain the mice, dredge them thoroughly in a mixture of flour, pepper, and salt, and fry slowly in the rendered fat for about 5 minutes. Add a cup of alcohol and 6 to 8 cloves, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Prepare a cream sauce, transfer the sautéed mice to it, and warm them in it for about 10 minutes before serving.
Because some of you may have an aversion to cooking up rodents, here are a few tastier recipes that combine weird ingredients.
Just Before You Cook and Eat Rats
Refrain from assuming that all rats are pests — some of them can actually be served during feasts! Disease-free rats that live far away from the city are the ones that are cooked and served in many places across the globe.
No amount of cooking can take away the fact that rat meat is the meat of rats.
But knowing that it’s the meat of a field or cane rat, you can have peace of mind that many are consuming and enjoying it. Choosing high-quality rat meat as well as the right recipe is key when giving it a go!
Can you buy rat meat at grocery stores?
In parts of the planet when rat meat is consumed regularly or considered a delicacy, it’s often sold at markets. In India, for instance, rat meat comes aplenty, especially in wintertime. A couple of pounds of rat meat in the country during this time costs about Rs 200, which, as of this writing, is around $2.50.
Is there rat poop in food?
Rat poop is present in many foods, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows it for as long as it’s within the allowable limit on defects, which presents no health hazards for humans. Wheat, fennel seeds, ginger, cocoa beans and popcorn are some of those that may contain small amounts of rat poop.