Let's eat Izu-Deer!

Deer in Izu are not afraid of harmless people. Despite their innocent eyes, they damage agriculture and destroy the environment as they are too many.

Deer meat processing center

As I explained in a previous article, people in Izu suffer from the excessively increased number of deer in the region. Izu city, which is located in the central part of Izu Peninsula, came up with a unique idea to curb the number of deer and to vitalize the regional economy through sales of deer meat.

Alter intensive review, Izu City decided to build a deer meat processing center and invite hunters to bring their game to the center. The center should be equipped with modern facilities and experts for meat processing. It proposed hunters to sell a fresh deer up to 10,000 yen and drafted a plan to process 6 deer per day.

Izu-Shika logo is the combination of Izu Peninsula and silhouette of deer with its eye at Izu City.
At the same time, it decided to promote branding of its deer meat by adopting a merchandisable name "Izu-Shika" (Izu-Deer) and a special logo to symbolize deer produced in Izu City.

After so much preparation and budgetary allocation, the opening of the deer meat processing center was celebrated on 19 April with the attendance of Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture and Mayor of Izu City. So far as I hear, the Izu-Shika business started smoothly. In April 38 deer were brought in the center by hunters and 34 deer were bought up. The municipality government makes efforts to process 300 deer for the first year and in a few years up to 800. I watched the debate in the municipality parliament concerning the management of deer meat business through internet. The debate went on business-like and I found the government was serious in making a profitable enterprise and tried to think out effective ideas to sell deer meat, including creation of new deer-meat recipes, tie-up with private enterprises and production of pet foods with less qualitative parts of meat.

Izu-Deer is sold here. Meet is vacuum packed and frozen.

My cottage is located in Izu City and I am disturbed by deer. Why then should I not contribute to the plan of Izu City? To start with, wanted to visit the processing center. However, according to the internet site of Izu City, the processing center is in principle open to official visitors only and individuals are asked to refrain from visiting it, maybe because of hygiene considerations. Therefore, I gave up visiting the processing center and decided to satisfy myself with buying and eating deer meat.

I first thought that every supermarket and meat shop in Izu City. But, Izu-Shika meat was only available at two supermarket and one meat shop. I went to a supermarket and looked after deer meat. From the entrance I could not see anything related to deer. After a while I discovered an Izu-Shika banner in a back side corner. There was a freezer and three types of deer meat were stored: thigh (198yen/100g), loin (450yen/100g) and mincemeat (138yen/100g). I bought a 308g package of thigh (605 yen) and went back home.

I had already decided to grill it over charcoal fire, before I bought deer meat. My partner sprinkled salt and pepper, poured a bit of soy sauce and vegetable oil and added garlic slices. When flame subsided and charcoal started to give stable heat, I put two pieces of meat on the grid. After a few minutes I turned them over and soon they were ready to eat.

Clockwise from the photo below:
- Izu-Deer marinated in oil and soy-sauce,
- grilled over charcoal,
- ready to eat and
- cut on the plate.

Deer curry

Deer steak was surprisingly tender and juicy. It was light and did not stink at all. It perfectly fit to draft beer! I was fascinated and thought I can use this for the main course of a party when I invite friends. Deer meat is still a rarity in Japan and many people feel slightly scared of it, thinking that its texture might be hard and its smell might be too strong to enjoy its taste. But, I realized that this was just a prejudice.

On the following day, I cooked curry source with deer meat. It was not bad, but not as impressive as steak I prepared on the previous day. By adding much curry spices and cooking long, the original taste of deer meat was destroyed and its texture became slightly dry. But, this does not mean that deer curry is tasteless. I can add it to my dear menus, though steak better preserves the delicate taste of deer meat and tasts definitely better.

I believe I can effectively contribute to the curbing of deer stock in Izu and to the promotion of culinary industry of Izu City.