Cooking The Otyugh
"Nature's Garbage Dispsal"
-'On Monsters' By Archmage Rasmodeus II
Ok stay with me here. I know at first glance this is the last thing you could imagine eating. Monsters like Ankhegs and Gelatinous Cubes might be a stretch, but this is an entire leap. Yet it is a leap of faith that pays off for anyone bold enough to delve in.
The Otyugh is a fascinating beast due to its huge range of diet. Many other animals such as Owlbears have diets that can tinge the meat with a specific flavor. We use the term “gamey” or “metallic” but those are reflections of what the animal consumed in its life, and formed the basis of flavors in its meat.
In no beast is this so much the case as the Otyugh. Otyugh live to consume, and they will consume anything, whether that is waste, trash, rotting carrion, or anything else that other creatures would leave to decay. For a long time, Otyugh meat was thought to be completely worthless. The meat was poisonous, soaking in all the toxins from the filth and refuse that the Otyugh consumed. Even after casting Purify Food and Water, it was vile at best. When cooked, the stench permeated a room and stuck to clothing, often inducing vomiting to any poor soul in proximity with a working nose. Consuming Otyugh was a last ditch effort only undertaken by those gone mad with hunger with no other alternatives. By no means do I condone consuming any random Otyugh that you find in some sewer or fell in some swamp.
So then why am I including this beast in my guide at all? Is it mere morbid analysis? A warning message of what NOT to eat? No. Rather recently, Jaina Calabra, the “Mad Chef” of Pyra, made a discovery regarding Otyugh. You know how I said that Otyughs will eat absolutely anything? The meat itself is almost completely lacking in intrinsic flavor, instead taking on the flavor of its diet and almost “fermenting” it, for lack of a more apt term. Fermented garbage is a truly disgusting prospect, but if one is to selectively feed an Otyugh a diet of better fruit, vegetables, or meat, it will take on those flavors and develop them.
Eating them on purpose?
While Otyugh have long been used in the service of men as guards or waste disposal, the idea of truly cultivating the Otyugh for the purpose of consumption is completely flabbergasting to most. Why would you send artisanal goods to the garbage service? However, she isn’t called the “Mad Chef” for nothing, and she made a wild gambit based on this new discovery. A few years into her Otyugh cultivation project, she reached a point she was happy with, and for the first time made her discovery known to the world. But knowing Jaina, she never does things halfway. She showed off her new recipes to the Council of Four at their annual meeting. She had been specially invited to cater their night, and she brought out “Otyugh 3 Ways”. None of the Grand Dukes could have imagined that the dishes in front of them were all made from the beast of trash, but after revealing it, she was, almost surprisingly, not killed on sight. Instead they needed to know more.
This new advancement has led to an arms race in some culinary circles as Otyughs are brought up on different combinations of feed. Some successful feed combinations include apples, citrus, grapes, flavorful grains such as barley, high quality meats, and exotic mushrooms. One such Otyugh that was successfully raised on Dwarven Truffles from Mount Irnsid, had singular steaks selling for more than 60 gold a pound in the capital. This is a true gold rush for aspiring chefs, purveyors, and masters of animal husbandry. The true difficulty is in convincing new consumers to put their preconceptions aside, but it rarely takes more than a single bite to turn a skeptic into a believer.
Example Recipe: Otyugh Three Ways
The Otyugh really has no traditional preparation methods, being one of few creatures with no true culinary history to draw from. Chefs are still learning how to best work with it, and customers who can afford the meal want to learn what all the fuss is about. Jaina Calabra first served this dish to the Council of Four, and now this rendition has become popular for chefs serving it to first timers as a showcase of what the meat has to offer.
Course 1: Otyugh Carpaccio
This dish is served in 3 courses, each one highlighting a different cut of the Otyugh and highlighting its strengths. The first dish is a carpaccio, with wild greens. This dish uses the tenderloin, showing off the intensely flavorful fat marbling that can occur with a well kept Otyugh. The meat is first chilled until solid, then sliced paper thin. It is laid onto a plate and lightly salted, and drizzled with citrus juice. A salad of seasonal greens and wild garlic is then tossed in high quality oil and laid on top. This dish doesn’t need much, and that’s exactly the point. Allow the rich meat to carry you to new heights.
Course 2: Braised Otyugh Cheek
The second dish is Braised Otyugh Cheek with risotto, showing off the intense flavor that develops when the muscles are allowed to break down with a slow cook. The cheek meat is given a hard sear, before the pan is deglazed with wine and stock. A bouquet of herbs and garlic is placed in the pot along with some roughly chopped carrots and onions, before the dish is allowed to braise for 6 hours. The meat is removed to rest and the cooking liquid is reduced to a glaze. It is then served on a light cheese risotto.
Course 3: Otyugh Tentacle Tartare
The final dish is an Otyugh tentacle tartare. While the previous two dishes highlighted cuts you could find on many farm animals, prepared in familiar ways, this dish shows off an interesting part of the Otyugh. The tentacle is encased in an incredibly thick skin that quickly hardens after the Otyugh dies. However, after this skin is removed, the tentacle meat is incredibly tender. Jaina took this meat and chopped it up into almost a paste. She then combined it with cider vinegar, oil, finely diced spring onions, and plenty of light herbs. It is then packed together and served. This light dish cuts through the thick fattiness of the previous course, and leaves the customer feeling refreshed.