how to cook mutton bird

Though I’ve occasionally seen sooty shearwaters on their breeding grounds and frequently at sea, I had never eaten one until now. They’re better known as muttonbirds when served raw; I recently saw some in the window of a butcher shop in Ngaruawahia and decided to give them a try.

Sooty shearwaters (titi) are New Zealand’s most abundant seabird. They likely number in the millions, and they proliferate throughout the nation, mostly on islands where they are safe from rats and other predators but also at a few locations on the mainland. The majority are found in the south, and the Rakiura (Stewart Island) Maori have the traditional right to harvest them from the islands known as the titis.

Subsequently, extract the muttonbirds, discard approximately three-quarters of the water, and replenish with sufficient fresh water to bring the vegetables served with the birds to a boil. I chose small, raw potatoes, but kumara, watercress sprigs, and puha (sow thistle) are also popular options. Puha and watercress both have strong, peppery flavors, but these traditional Maori greens work really well with the meaty, salty flavor of the muttonbirds.

After the vegetables are boiling, drain and place the vegetables on a plate. Grill the muttonbirds for a few minutes to crisp up the skin and extract a little more fat. The meat from the muttonbird should be falling off the bones; place the pieces over the vegetables together with the skin. The outcome is rather unusual: although the texture is similar to well-cooked lamb, I found them to taste more like corned beef, possibly because of the residual salt. The name “muttonbird” is meant to refer to their muttony flavor.

Pick fresh, new leaves for collection (food markets sometimes sell them, but foraging is much more enjoyable and less expensive!). Newer leaves have a softer flavor. Cooking them for about 15 minutes, along with the potatoes, also helps to soften them. You’ll need to use large handfuls of the greens because they cook down significantly.


What does a mutton bird taste like?

T?t? are a bird harvested annually by Rakiura M?ori, between April and May. They have a bird-like flesh, and a salty ocean taste reminiscent of fish. We recommend washing the bird, and then bringing it to a slow boil in cold water. This will bring the salt content of the bird down.

How do you eat mutton bird?

Boiled salted titi Simmer for 20 minutes. Drain the water, replace it and repeat the process, and then once more again, but this time continue to gently simmer birds, covered, until tender. Cut birds in half and grill (either under a grill element or on a flat hotplate grill) until the skin is crisp. Eat with fingers.

Are mutton birds healthy?

Apart from being a good source of meat, mutton birds are also rich in omega-3 oils, including appreciable quantities of oil found in their stomach (Warham 1977).