Move over Ewoks, there’s a new critter in this galaxy. Star Wars: The Last Jedi marks the debut of porgs, a species of alien birds that chill with Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To as he trains Rey in the ways of the Force. They may be cute, but we can’t help but wonder: How do they taste?
Image: Disney / Lucasfilm
Actor Mark Hamill insists that Luke Skywalker hasn’t dined on porgs or their weird alien eggs, saying on Twitter that Luke is a vegetarian. However, that doesn’t mean the idea of eating them is unthinkable in the Star Wars universe. The book Star Wars Made Easy includes a passage describing porgs: “Small, bird-like porgs are the island’s most adorable inhabitants. Cute? Definitely. Tasty? Maybe.” Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe, agrees – at least according to The Last Jedi co-star Laura Dern.
Dern: The more I went on about how adorable they are – it was like looking into the eyes of E.T., I loved those eyes so much – Oscar only continued to talk about different recipes.
Isaac: Porgs with roasted turnips. Glazed porg.
Porgs are based on puffins (with a little bit of seal and pug thrown in there) from Skellig Michael, an island off the coast of Ireland that was the basis for Ahch-To. Director Ryan Johnson told Yahoo! that he saw the puffins on the island and knew he had to make Star Wars versions of them, because they were too cute. Does that mean porgs taste like puffin? If not, what animals would be they be similar to, and what would be the best way to cook them? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to get their take on the taste of porg.
Project Manager of Distance Learning in Bird Biology, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Well, I’ve never eaten puffin. I’m not sure taste is predictable.
Except I’d say porgs wouldn’t taste like chicken. Chickens and related birds are odd that their flight muscles are fast-twitch fibres (the white meat) that work explosively for sprints and operate without added oxygen (anaerobic). Fast and furious. But, they need time to recharge after a sprint (recover oxygen and get rid of the lactic acid produced). There is not as much blood flow through the fast-twitch muscles as slow-twitch muscles, which are darker red in appearance (the dark meat). Slow-twitch muscles work for long periods of time and need oxygen from blood flow to keep them operating. So, fast-twitch muscle (white meat) has less blood, and has a more delicate flavour than slow-twitch muscle (dark meat).
Most flying birds have deep red muscle that allows them to fly large distances. They typically taste more like liver than chicken (plus a gamey flavour).
It’s hard to say what a porg’s lifestyle is from the brief clips I’ve seen. But, if they’re supposed to be seabirds and can fly, then they’re probably all slow-twitch muscle, just like real seabirds. Swimming and flying takes constant effort. Living in the ocean means probably eating smaller ocean-going life, which on Earth usually means fish at some level. Many birds that eat mostly fish tend to taste fishy (or so I’ve heard).
So, I would think there’s a good chance porgs would be dense, dark red meat tasting like goose or liver with a gamey and fishy edge.
Freelance food writer, Eater
It seems that Rian Johnson says that porgs are the Star Wars version of puffins, and they have something akin to wings and apparently are nesting creatures. But their lack of beaks and mammalian teeth make me not want to assume that they’d have a fully poultry taste. I suspect they’d taste something more like the guinea pig eaten in South America, or like rabbit.
In any case I would assume a lot of dark meat on the animal, and might end up tasting like a sort of gamey pastrami. I’d suggest cooking porg mostly in stews or long braises, though a few spit-roasted porgs might be good for an outdoor party, if you can get the skin crispy enough.
Steve ‘Mo’ Fye
Executive Chef, Four Winds Behavioural Health and Uncle Mo’s Punk Rock Kitchen
How to cook a porg. Whatever that is.
First of all, I don’t believe in Porgs. They’re not real like Tribbles are. So, it’s a puffin/penguin thing with anthropomorphic big baby anime eyes. Even suspended disbelief won’t make them fly with their hairy little nubbins of wings (at least they don’t talk and represent the inherent racism of the Star Wars canon).
Based on the supposed ecosystem, they eat fish or other sea critters. Avians that eat mostly seafood don’t taste good like seafood. They taste like spoiled fish. How do you make this abomination taste good? You don’t. How do you make it palatable?
If we grant that it can fly, then the majority of edible flesh will be in the breasts. Skin the little monster and use your thumbs to separate the muscle from the keelbone. Gut it and discard nearly everything else. The organs are likely toxic. It’s gonna taste like fish liver, but if you soak the breast meat in milk (blue milk if’n you want to be canon) for an hour or so, you can take away much of the filthy flavour. Dredge in flour liberally seasoned with pepper and thyme. Skip the salt. The flesh will likely be saturated with salt. It’s a sea bird. Look at me being consistent with this made-up bullshit.
Pan fry in any fat other than the rendered fat of this horrible creature. If I’m wrong, then the next step will actually work. If the subcutaneous fat is actually edible and palatable, the rest of the carcass can be cooked a confit. Trim all fat and render it over low to medium heat and then transfer to a slow cooker along with the jointed pieces of Porg. Cook at 160-fahrenheit [71C] for four to six hours with a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme and three juniper berries. Of course, I’d do it sous vide, but unless you have Empire money, that’s too fancy for us Rebels.
Really, don’t eat this affront to nature. Just kill it, smash its eggs, and leave its broken body as a warning to all its ilk.
The nun Lanais caretakers of Ahch-To surely would have cultivated various dishes using porgs both big and small. The taste of a porg would vary depending on the age, size, and manner in which it was prepared. Let’s be honest, one would think if we boiled a dozen porg eggs, removed the yolks, added some mayo, paprika, and spiced to taste, a deviled egg would be a deviled egg. But the difference is that porgs are able to extract sea salt from their food. This means to our human palette, we’re going to taste the Ahch-To seas in the bountiful flavours of most expertly prepared porgplates no matter what. It wouldn’t matter how it was prepped, one could expect a sea salted flavour explosion in their mouth with every bite of porg.
It is said the plumage of a porg has evolved to give them a water-shedding ability, but this also means lots of delicious natural oils are at play. Those oils that help keep porgs dry and warm on land are going to take a soup broth to the next level. 4 quarts of water brought to a boil with a large greasy porg inside would surely make for a succulent but fishy broth. Cooking a porg down to its pure flavorful essence is no joke though. You’re going to have cook that bird for six to 10 hours at least, and you’re going to want to strain the broth because any feather fragments or leftover residues could affect the ability to appreciate just the taste of porg soup broth.
Now, if you’re an outdoors person, like myself, you could throw all that away. I would think the best way to taste a porg would be over an open fire – and nothing beats the flavour or wood, so no charcoal. That salty bird is still going to be a bit odoriferous, however if charred just right, you could potentially cook out some of the fishy tastes and hopefully preserve the more chicken-like flavours. But the best part of grilling a porg on an open flame is the way it brings you and your friends together because friend, family and fun is secondary to taste.