What Is Donkey Meat Called? (How To Identify It & How It Tastes)

If you’re thinking to yourself what donkey meat is called, you might be feeling quite hungry. Perhaps you’re even curious if eating donkeys is actually a thing.

The name for donkey meat, weirdly, is “poopy”. It’s not certain if this name originated in Kenya, one of the biggest exporters of donkey meat, or came from elsewhere. It’s hardly a common term. [1]

But as for the rest of your appetite-driven questions? We’ll cover those too.

Here you’ll learn:

  • What donkey meat is
  • How it tastes
  • Where its popular

I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching donkey behaviour and have a keen interest in them as a farmyard pet. 

But not so keen on eating them!

Other Names For Donkey Meat

Another term donkey meat may be known under is “donkey burger”. [2] This refers to a type of sandwich eaten in the Hebei province of China.

Apparently, it’s been a delicacy since the days of the Ming dynasty.

How Can You Identify Donkey Meat?

Donkey meat looks a lot like beef. So much so that food agencies have to run PCR tests regularly to determine beef consumers are actually getting what they hoped they bought. [3]

To the human eye it looks like a red meat. Because there’s not much fat on a donkey, the characteristic ‘white’ sinew of something like a steak isn’t usually present. When it’s boiled or grilled it gets darker.

Here’s how it looks being cooked by a street vendor…

Notice how it’s described to have a “corn beef hash” texture? That’s also how it usually looks when served.

Because donkeys are mostly farm animals that aren’t produced for their meat, most of the western world is ignorant as to how it looks. But it is considered a safe meat to eat. On a par with mutton and beef.

How Does Donkey Meat Taste?

Because donkey meat is mostly prepared and served in its “burger” form, its taste can be a combination of flavors. Most people describe it as “cured“, with a taste between pork and chicken.

Because donkeys are technically herbivores, the meat itself is seen as healthy and fairly lean. It’s taste isn’t as rich as game meat that’s been fed on a very specific diet.

The video above also explains that it’s easy to eat horse meat and be fooled into thinking you’re eating donkey. Only those who’ve grown up eating the animal can really tell the difference.

Other descriptions of the taste of donkey meat include:

  • Tender
  • Not too salty
  • Crunchy

But this seems to depend on whether you try the “lean” or “fatty” versions of the dish. [4]

What Are The Health Benefits Of Donkey Meat?

Like all animal meats, donkey meat is rich in protein. Unlike other farmed meat however it’s low in fat and cholesterol.

It’s very beneficial in helping you build lean muscle mass.

But this does come at a cost.

As it’s classified as red meat (similarly to beef and pork), it could cause long-term health effects as well as raising your overall risk of cancer [5].

It’s generally recommended not to consume too much of it.

Donkey Meat In China

Mostly all instances of donkey meat eaten for human consumption come from China. Outside of Hebei province, it’s also popular in the northeast of the country. Due to China’s donkey shortage however (and because their skin was used in a popular herbal medicine), their meat is often imported.

The “donkey burger” is prepared in different ways to reflect this. The shape of the bread used to hold the meat is sometimes indicative of the area the recipe originates from. Sometimes spices and other flavors associative of specific areas in China might also be used.

Other ways donkey meat is served in China include:

  • Donkey hotpot
  • Donkey stew

Donkey Meat In Italy and Europe

Outside of China, donkey meat is also somewhat of a staple in Italian cuisine. There it can sometimes be eaten in raviolis, salamis and stews. You’ll see it called by the name “asino”, which is the name of the animal in Italian.

The meat used to be a frequent ingredient in certain French sausages too. But, due to restrictions, has now been replaced for pork and beef.

Can You Eat Donkey Meat In The US?

Donkey meat is on the rise in the US and North America due to continued popularity of Chinese cuisine. In places like Toronto, for example, you can eat it in some restaurants in the Hebei style with a huoshao bun. [6]

It’s still pretty rare though. So your best bet is to try and buy it from wholesalers online.

Should You Farm Donkeys For Their Meat?

Based on research, and owing to the slow reproduction rates of donkeys around the world, I’d say no. The demand isn’t exactly booming either.

They’d be much better kept on your farm as a friendly pet!

Want to learn more about donkeys and how they might fit on your farm? Check out other donkey articles like this here.

Image Credit: @miriana at Unsplash

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