This might seem weird, but yes, I cooked seal meatballs.
It’s lean protein, high iron and totally sustainable (they’re eating all the cod and these are not the cute baby ones). There are no antibiotics or grain in the feed since it’s a wild meat. And it tastes creamy when slow-cooked.
Some people get scared off by the fact that it’s seal and don’t love the creamy organ-like texture when slow-cooked. My theory on the latter is that when you say “meatballs,” you expect a certain thing, and while these are similar to traditional meatballs, seal will never be a perfect substitute for beef or pork.
The trick is to find what it is a good substitute for, which is why this is Cooking With Seal, Part 1 of 3.
I’ll spoil the surprise: Part 2 was a disaster and Part 3 was delicious. This, Part 1, was pretty good. I definitely prefer chicken meatballs, which I’ve made twice since. But if you want red meat without eating red meat, here you go. Or if you just want to try something new. I bought mine at The Fish Depot in St. John’s, NL. Good luck finding it outside of NL, but The Depot might be able to ship some. If you can ever get them to answer the phone.
Seal Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (pulse 2 pieces of gf bread in a blender)
1 egg, beaten with a fork
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced chives
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (or dried ground nutmeg)
1 lb seal meat (I had cubes that I finely chopped like tartare, but ground would be ideal)
1 tbsp oil
1 can crushed tomatoes or passata
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
1/2 tsp red chile flakes, optional
1/4 cup torn fresh or frozen basil, or 1 tsp dried basil
Any combo of a 1/4 tsp of any of any or all of these dried herbs: Oregano, parsley, marjoram, cinnamon, nutmeg
Combine the milk and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add the egg and spices and mix well. Stir in the seal meat and shape into 16 balls. Add a little more milk 1 tbsp at a time if the meatballs aren’t sticking together. You don’t want them soggy or you won’t be able to sear them, though.
Heat the oil over high heat in a large pot and add the meatballs in a single layer. Work in batches if necessary. Turn the meatballs to sear the outside. They’ll only need about 30 seconds per side if the pot is hot, so keep stirring regularly. Now is not the time for a coffee break. Remove the meatballs to a plate as soon as they’re seared all over.
Add all the tomato sauce ingredients to the now empty pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer with the lid half off for 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt or chile flakes to taste.
Return the meatballs to the pot and return the sauce to a simmer. Cook, half covered, for 10 minutes. Serve with pasta or as an appetizer.