Kangaroo hops into the supermarket

The global larder: After its debut in restaurants, the meat may become a staple

It bounded into the menus of the more modern restaurants, and took a giant leap forward to public acceptability when BSE hit the beef market.

Now kangaroo meat is being tested as a daily staple with a supermarket offering it as steaks and burgers.

The first supplies are available at Tesco from now until the end of September. If the meat finds a following, it will become a regular on the shelves from the beginning of next year.

Michael Fletcher, Tesco's speciality meats buyer, said: "Our customers have shown a great interest in speciality meats and we will be offering them a new variety."

Already available in butchers and increasingly popular since the "mad cow disease" scare deterred beef-eaters, kangaroo is described by Tesco as "succulent, flavoursome and with a similar taste and texture to beef steak".

Kangaroo meat follows on from ostrich, crocodile, wild boar and buffalo as an innovation in the diet of a country which is becoming increasingly adventurous in its eating habits.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia has endorsed kangaroo for its low fat content - around 1 per cent - and low level of sodium.

A spokesman for Tesco said that half of its customers were trying to cut down on red meat but had found the taste and texture of existing alternatives unacceptable.

"We are looking at different ways of meeting customer demands," he said. More than 500,000 packs of ostrich steaks and burgers have been sold in Tesco supermarkets since they were introduced in May.

A pack of two kangaroo steaks (260g) sells for pounds 3.99 and a pack of two kangaroo burgers (227g) for pounds 2.99, prices which the store claims compare favourably to those of the better cuts of beef.

However, other stores look unlikely to follow suit. Jane Ellison, for Asda, which was one of the supermarkets to introduce ostrich, said it did not stock kangaroo and had no plans to do so. And a Marks and Spencer spokeswoman said: "We sell beef, lamb and pork. We are always looking at new developments in the food industry but we have no plans to sell kangaroo at present."

Australian seared steaks and surf salad

Ingredients: One chopped and de-seeded red or green chilli; 2.5 cm (1in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated; one clove garlic, peeled and crushed; 350g (12oz) chopped shallots; 3-4 tbsp oil; 2 kangaroo steaks cut into even strips; 225g (8oz) cooked, peeled king prawns; 20g (3/4oz) coriander or flat-leaf parsley; 9-10 sprigs fresh mint; salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Dressing: Juice and finely grated rind of one lime; 1-2 tbsp chilli sauce; 3OOml (1/2 pint) thick coconut milk; sugar to taste.

Garnish: Four whole unpeeled prawns; one red chilli, de-seeded and chopped.

Method: Mix the chilli, ginger, garlic and shallots. Fry in 3 tbsp hot oil until crispy and golden brown; leave on kitchen paper to drain. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over gentle heat; fry steak strips for 2-3 minutes or until just tender; remove from heat. In the same pan fry prawns for a further 2 minutes or until just heated through.

Mix chilli mixture, kangaroo-steak strips, prawns, coriander leaves, and sprigs of mint. Season to taste.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together, season to taste.

Arrange steaks on 4 plates, garnish with prawns and a sprinkling of chilli and serve with the lime dressing.

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