Few meat eaters have ever had to butcher their own meat, and we’d wager that most, given the choice of “slaughter and prepare your own or go vegetarian”, would choose to lead a herbivorous life over getting busy with a cleaver. But not Japanese blogger Chiharu-san!
In her blog, “Chiharu no Mori”, writer Chiharu details her experiences living a life of self-sufficiency and, in this particular episode, butchering and preparing a wild boar. It’s a fascinating look at a process that few of us have experienced nor would ever care to partake in, and we have to commend Chiharu for being brave enough to actually get her hands dirty like this. Be warned, though, the following images are not for the squeamish.
The following is a translated extract from Chiharu’s personal blog:
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The other day I received a rather unexpected email from one of my housemates:
“You won’t believe it but I’ve caught a wild boar. Don’t suppose you want to try your hand and dissecting it?”
I’d lived with my housemate before in Chiba, during which time I received similar invitations asking if I’ d been interested in doing things like wringing the neck of a chicken. Needless to say after such experiences my housemates and I had become dab hands at the whole dissection thing. It seemed that this wild boar had become trapped in a snare that we placed in the vegetable plot.
In this post, I will go into the details of how I dissected the wild boar.
First of all, take a quick peek at the little fellows caught in the trap!
Aren’t they just adorable! They’re wagging their little tails!
When it comes to wild boars, offspring are normally born around June, so from doing a bit of simple calculation that would make these animals about 2-3 months old. Although they exude a charm that makes one think, “these little fellas wouldn’t be out of place in a zoo attraction all of their own”, let’s remember that there’s also a more sinister side lurking beneath their lovable exteriors.
What I mean is that these animals rake through your vegetable plot leaving things in a state of total devastation. Even if the damage is limited to a bit of leaf nibbling, selling your vegetables after that becomes close to impossible. As a consequence the farmer ends up unable to make a living. To reiterate, they may look cute but from a farmer’s perspective they’re a real threat to one’s livelihood. With this in mind, although the hunting period is normally up until February, since wild boars are recognized under the pest control act as harmful animals, they fall outside of this category.
Just taking a look at the natural habitat for a while, an animal’s connection to and dependence on its surrounding ecosystem is something that becomes quite apparent; the intricate yet subtle intertwining of one living creature’s world with another is a notion that permeates through to my soul. This all makes me want to strive to be a person who can see beyond the surface, and perceive the true delicacies of nature.
Through this article, what I’d like to evoke in the reader are not just thoughts about the dissection itself, but also the vegetable plot and its surrounding ecosystem. If readers are moved by what they read, it means that what I’m trying to convey has made an impression. This would make me truly delighted.
From here it all begins!
Without further ado, let me introduce the picture that I received when the wild boar was first captured. Just looking at these cute baby wild boars fills your heart with warmth, so the squeamish of you out there might prefer to look away.
First of all, the wild boar caught in the trap were shot in the head with an air rifle. Wait-Ahhh!
After that, the fur was burnt off.
If you cut off the nose and tail and take it to the local city office, you receive a extermination compensation fee. The fee is 2,000-4,000 yen ($22-42) per animal. Regardless of the size or age of the animal, the reward is set at a fixed price. It’s for this reason that the baby wild boar that made its way to me was lacking its nose and tail.
Additionally, the blood had already been drained beforehand and the boar was completely hollow.
On a previous occasion, I had to pass on the dissection of an 80 kg (176 lbs) adult wild boar dissection due to the sheer size of the animal, but this baby wild boar looks much less challenging. Here for the first time, I plucked up the courage and performed the dissection all by myself!
At first one might have reservations about doing all of this in the kitchen of a house in which 12 people live, but it was in this very kitchen that I learnt how to dissect an adult wild boar firsthand from a housemate so I went ahead and did it.
The first part of the dissection of a baby wild boar is the same as an adult. First, peel off the skin and then cut off the body parts in order:
Make an incision into the ankle and peel off the skin.
When you approach the neck area, peeling off the skin becomes a much more difficult task. Therefore it is best to sever the neck completely. I’m writing all of this in a rather relaxed manner but it was actually quite a terrifying experience to begin with!
From the abdomen region, I then inserted the knife and continued the peeling process.
I have to stress that in terms of body fat, the baby and adult are incomparable. The baby has hardly any fat at all and the smell is much more tolerable.
It’s going well – about half way done with the skin peeling process. Just like when I witnessed the adult dissection, here I make holes in the skin and tear it off.
The skin of the back legs is difficult to separate so I had to make an incision with the knife again.
Afterwards I received a bit more training from the my housemate as to how to pull this off with a little more ease. It seems the best way to cut into the skin is to position the knife at an angle on the skin’s underside and make an incision. Ideally, a knife that matched the wild bore’s bodily curve would have been best, but not having this type of tool to hand, I made do with a regular carving knife. Some in the know even use a cutting knife here since it slides along the bodily curves of the animal, creating a nice, clean cut.
I mentioned above that the baby wild boar has hardly any fat, but to a degree I take that back! This is a wild boar after all, and regardless of the size a bit of fat is to be expected. The more you cut, the more difficult it becomes to progress any further. Here I recommend preparing some boiled water to periodically dip your knife in. This will make the cutting process go much easier!
The next step is to peel the skin off the animal’s face. For me, this has got to be the most painstaking stage of all!
Off comes the skin from around the eyes.. Argh! I can’t bear to look. I’ll go easy on you by not uploading the picture from this scene!
At this point my housemate Kei dropped into the kitchen!
Kei: “What you up to?”
Me: “Just in the middle of a wild bore dissection.”
Kei: “Whoa, unreal!!!”
Thinking about it, who wouldn’t be a little taken aback to discover their housemate dissecting a wild animal in their kitchen? “Let’s put this meat to good use by making a wild boar curry!” I suggested with a grin.
Right it’s back to peeling off the skin. Next, the rear of the animal.
The texture is quite different to that of the adult skin peeled off last time.
Next, after stripping the wild boar completely naked, it’s time to place it on its stomach. At this stage we peel off the thigh meat from the back of the legs.
So now we cut into and trace along the meat itself so as to get a good cut. There’s not all that much fat here, and in this respect it doesn’t differ all that much from a deer.
Each lump of meat is covered in a thin film. Here we cut, pull and break this skin as we continue with the dissection. Once the meat is more or less cut up, we break the bone’s joints in the opposite direction and start the deboning process.
Let’s cut the meat muscle.
Now we bring the legs upwards. Due to the weight of the meat there will be parts torn here and there, so let’s cut these parts off and tidy everything up a little, then move on to the front legs. This part doesn’t have any joints, so its simply a case of peeling off the skin and then you’re done.
Once you’ve separated the front and back legs, it’s time to cut off the high-grade fillet meat from each section.
Now turn the stomach upside down. Let’s take a look inside. You should be able to see that the area around the joint bones of the back of the legs has quite a bit of fillet meat.
The actual amount of meat that you can salvage from one wild boar isn’t that great, but its very tender and delicious. For this reason, it’s considered to be quite a luxury.
The next stage is to cut the roast meat from the backbone..
The roast meat is the second most tender part of the wild boar. In this respect, it is the same as that of a cow- T-bone steak comes from the same area. Cut along the backbone and make sure to cut off all the meat. Doing so will save any waste and mean an increase in the amount of delicious meat that you get from the cut.
Last, it’s time to remove the rib meat. Cut into the area that runs between the backbone and the internal organs. From the neck down cut in a vertical motion.
You might think that as long as you know the procedure, dissection is more or less something anyone can do. However when it comes to an adult wild boar quite a bit of physical strength is required and for this reason, on the last occasion, my housemates all grouped together and used a chainsaw.
Well, the dissection is coming close to a finish.
From the left-hand side in a clockwise direction the parts are as follows:
Rib meat, ear, fillet, head, neck, roast, back legs, front legs.
The parts prepared above will now be broken down further for cooking purposes when the occasion arises.
Admittedly, the whole dissection process has taken up a lot of time and left me completely exhausted! However, when it comes to a baby wild bore - if you have the tenacity - it’s something you can do on your own without the help of others. Or so the confidence I’ve gained from this experience leads me to believe!
Again it’s one level up for Chiharu!
But strictly speaking, I’ve yet to experience draining the blood from the meat, so I haven’t actually gone through the entire process from start to finish. Draining the blood is something that you have to do immediately after slaughtering an animal, so it’s not an opportunity that usually comes my way; catching an animal in a snare is all about luck, and not being at the scene at the time also means missing this chance. It would be good to actually perform all stages that go with the dissection some day! I’d even like to position the trap in the vegetable plot myself. Doing so would also mean the need for a permit to capture wild game: something I’m also setting my sights on!
The amount of meat salvaged from this dissection is far too great for a single person to consume, and so here it’s time to consider who to share it all with! First there are my housemates, then colleagues from the office. I think I’ll also give it to other people who I think of as I go along. For the time being, to preserve its freshness, I’ll put the meat into containers and keep it in the freezer.
The meat I gave to the local Thai restaurant put it to good use by incorporating it into a “wild boar boiled in shimp-miso sauce” gourmet!
My colleagues transformed the meat I gave them into a juicy wild boar roast fillet!
Taking a bite of the baby wild boar’s meat creates an invigorating feeling of freshness inside the mouth; its tenderness is really something.
I mentioned in another blog post that on a different occasion that I’d helped to dissect an adult wild boar. Taking part in only one process and not performing all sections of the dissection myself, it was difficult to portray the stages clearly. Hopefully this time, I’ve painted a clear image of just what to expect!
I’m still clearly in the stages of training and have a lot to learn, but I’d like to become much more proficient in the whole dissection thing! I make frequent references to animal dissection but, as obscure as it sounds, I’m often lean more towards vegetarianism. I usually try to live my life by the following philosophy: ”Eating only the foods that you can produce yourself, whilst maintaining a healthy balance.”
In terms of order of easiness, this would go as follows:
- fresh vegetables
As a rule, I don’t normally eat anything with four legs for the reason that the dissection itself is so tiring. When I first participated in a dissection, it took me six months before I could bring myself to eat meat again. However, living in the city has made me more accustomed to a meat-based diet. In this sense, my palate is still changing!
When it comes to wild game, selecting the right season in which to bring the meat to your table is fundamental in determining the quality and taste of the meat itself. When it comes to factory raised, year-round fattened poultry, however, the same cannot be said. Of course there’s the element of stable food provisions that can’t be overlooked, but I just can’t help thinking that there is more to it than that.
As I consider all of this, I find myself thinking about the wild game that roams freely in the mountains, eating their prey as they want. I am moved by just how natural this all feels. It strikes me as a little peculiar that our food culture has become so separated from this type of natural spectacle. Perhaps it is a sign that our food habits have undergone considerable change from the ages gone before?
I’m still not the biggest of meat eaters out there but I cannot deny that all this has made me feel compelled to read up more on meat, its history and its ties with nature. For example, what were the ways civilizations from ancient times ate meat? For me, this is quite an area of fascination.
In this connection, this is yet another subject that has sparked my interested. If I happen to make any more discoveries connected to this topic as a whole, I’ll be sure to let all of you know!