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Australian Native Food

Emu Bao

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Emu Bao

Pau or Bao, is a staple food throughout Asia, and a particular favourite for Singaporeans. From hawkers markets, to well-known Dim Sum restaurants and small convenience stores, fresh bao can contain many different fillings for that quick snack or as the star of a lunch time platter.

Interestingly, when you see bao buns sitting in big bamboo steamers or lined up in small cabinets in Singapore, they have different coloured dots on the top of them. It is intriguing, this colour coding of doughy goodness, and extremely organised. For those of you trying to decode the numerous bao buns on offer throughout Singapore, this is what we have tasted: the Char Siew Pork meat bao (red dot); the Vegetable bao (green dot); the curried chicken bao (dark orange dot); the Yam bao (light yellow dot); and the bao filled with red bean paste which has no dot at all!

But probably one of our favourites is the larger round meat bao, gorgeously rich and tender, with a flavour that fills the mouth and makes you want more. So, we thought, why not try a fresh steamed bao bun with some delicious Australian game meat? Maybe Kangaroo or even Emu?

Here is a relatively easy recipe that brings together the light and springy Chinese bao dough with slowly braised Australian Emu shank, infused with native Australian spices. Give it a try to really impress people at your next Asian inspired dinner party.

EMU BAO

For the Emu filling:

5 Emu drums (or 1.5kg)

Handful of dry native lemongrass

Ten dried pepperberries, crushed

2 sprigs native thyme

5 riberries

3 tbsp chilli bean paste

1ltr game stock

200ml red wine

2tbsp dark soy

1tbsp hoisin

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

2 cloves garlic, whole

  1. Take emu drums, trip off excess sinew, rub with crushed pepper berries and chilli paste and place in a glass dish. Cover with wine, herbs and the cooled stock. Marinate overnight. Remove drums, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Retain the marinade liquid.

  2. Take a roasting pan and heat the oil. Saute the onion and celery, add the garlic cloves and colour the emu drums nicely. Pour over the retained marinade liquid (add more stock if necessary to completely cover the emu) and simmer slightly over heat.

  3. Cover roasting tin with foil and place in preheated oven at 160 degrees. Cook for 3 hours or until meat falls off the bone.

  4. Combine the honey, soy sauce, hoisin, rice wine vinegar in a pan, simmer and reduce slightly to a thickened sauce.

  5. Remove meat from the emu drums and chopped. Take remaining braising liquid, strain through fine muslin, then place in pan and reduce until thick. Add the soy sauce mixture to this sauce and check for flavour and seasoning.

  6. Combine the sauce with the emu meat, ready to fill the buns.

For the Bao Dough:

550g all-purpose flour or bao flour (this can be found at asian supermarkets)

100g cornstarch

5gr dry yeast

3 tbsp white sugar

300ml warm milk

1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp groundnut oil

1/2 tsp pepperberry, ground

  1. Mix together the flour, 2 tbsp sugar and cornstarch.

  2. Combine the milk, remaining sugar and yeast. Let sit for 15 minutes until the yeast activates and foams. Add this to the flour mixture slowly until combined.

  3. Add oil and vinegar to mix and bring together into a dough with hands.

  4. Put in stand mixer with dough hook and allow to knead for for 10 minutes until it is smooth and springy to the touch. If kneading by hand, this can take up to twelve minutes.

  5. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and allow to rise, just like bread, in a warm place for up to an hour until it has doubled in size.

  6. Punch down dough to remove all the air bubbles and then shape into smooth balls (20-30 depending on the portion size desired). Indent and make a large hole in the middle of the dough and push out the sides to form a small, even-sided bowl shape. Fill with 1 tbsp of emu meat mix, then wrap the edges around the filling so that they meet at the top (like putting something in a bag and gathering it at the top with an elastic band). Take the gathers at the top in one hand and with the other at the base of the bun ball, twist slightly to create the signature bao puckering at the top.

  7. Place each bun on a square of parchment paper and into a bamboo steamer. Allow to proof again in a warm place until the dough springs back slightly when touched and place steamer basket on top of pain of boiling water. Steam for 12 minutes.

Tips:

  • Don’t overproof the dough as this will lead the buns to go wrinkly and to collapse.

  • When the buns are finished steaming, slight open the lid and allow them to sit in the steamer basket for 6 more minutes before taking lid off fully - this will stop them from collapsing also.

  • You can also make these by braising kangaroo tails in the same way.

  • Serve these buns with the traditional condiments of oyster or plum sauce or try with our Pickled Native Ginger and Quandong dipping sauce for that extra Australian flavour (coming up in our next blog post).

Interesting Fact:

Did you know that the female Emu makes a very cool, deep drumming sound? Since we are using Emu drums in this recipe we thought this was kinda neat! Check it out


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Australian-style Popiah

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Australian-style Popiah

You can find Hokkien Popiah in pretty much every hawker’s market throughout Singapore. Slow cooked vegetables, Yam bean sauce and garlic complimented by slices of meat and garlicky prawns are enveloped in a very thin almost crepe-like wrap called Popiah skin. It is then sliced and devoured!

This delicious and unique street food favourite would be perfect with some Australian twists. So after some careful research here in Singapore, we have tweaked a few traditional elements used in Popiah to include WA prawns, kangaroo sausage, native basil and bush tomato relish.

Popiah skins can be bought fresh or frozen at various Chinese food stores and Asian supermarkets. If you have trouble finding them, a recipe for the ambitious cook has been included, so you can make them from scratch!

AUSTRALIAN - STYLE POPIAH

Makes 10

Ingredients:

Base Filling

2 tbsp peanut oil

4 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp chopped native lemongrass

50g carrots, shredded

80g green beans, thinly sliced

50 grams cooked Japanese yam - or even better, cooked native Youlk

60g shredded white cabbage

150g fresh WA endeavour prawns

200g chopped kangaroo sausage (or kangaroo mince)

300ml chicken stock

1 tsp soy sauce

salt and pepper

Additions:

10 pieces Popiah skin (fresh or frozen) or alternatively spring roll wrappers

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned

2 eggs, boiled and chopped

50g, roasted and chopped macadamia nuts

100g beansprouts

2 large native basil leaves, blanched, chilled and chopped

4 iceberg lettuce leaves, chopped

10 Tbsp bush tomato relish

Directions

1. In a wok or frying pan, gently sauté 2 tsp garlic, ginger and lemongrass in oil. Add kangaroo sausage or mince and sauce until cooked though. Set aside on plate. Add stock to pan and bring to boil.

2. Add prawns to stock until just cooked through, remove with slotted spoon, allow to cool, then peel and chop. Strain and reserve stock. Clean pan.

3. Saute 2 tsp garlic in oil until softened, gradually add the shredded vegetables, native lemongrass and soy sauce. Once slightly soften, pour in reserved stock until vegetables are just covered. Let simmer for 20-30 mins until much of the liquid has disappear and vegetables are soft, but not mushy. Strain vegetables and squeeze slightly to remove excess liquid. Set aside.

4. Now it is time to make some native Australian flavoured Popiah! Separate a sheet of popiah skin and lay on a clean flat surface.

5. At one end, lay some lettuce leaves and top with a Tbsp each of the additional ingredients. Only add 1 tsp of the native basil as it is quite strong. Top with 1 tbsp bush tomato relish, kangaroo sausage, macadamias, cucumber strips, bean sprouts and finally chopped prawns.

6. Roll into a compact spring roll shape (though it will be larger than your usual spring roll), tuck both ends in midway through.

7. Eat as a whole roll or slice into pieces!! Yum!

*** Homemade Popiah skins*** Makes 10-20

WARNING: Getting the skins perfectly even and thin takes practice, so keep trying!

Ingredients:

500g plain high protein flour

1 tbsp tapioca or corn flour

salt and peper

2 c water

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients and mix into a lumpy batter. Lift the batter up out of the bowl and let it drop down. You are essentially working the batter, or kneading it, until it starts to pull together into a dough.

  2. Once you reach a soft dough-like consistency, lay out in clean pan, cover and put in fridge overnight to ‘set’

  3. Take dough out - you will notice it has become more doughy and less like a batter.

  4. Heat a cast iron griddle, and quickly take a handful of the dough. Smear it around the base of the pan in a big circle so that some of the dough sticks to the pan, lifting up quickly to remove excess dough. Any thick bits on the crepe=like circle can be picked off with a ball of dough to unstick them.

  5. When the edges start to curl and all the moisture has evaporated from the skin, remove from the pan. Repeat with another lump of dough until all are made.




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The Elusive Blue Quandong - Adventures in Singapore

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The Elusive Blue Quandong - Adventures in Singapore

Isn’t this fruit gorgeous? Exploring South East Asia sure brings with it some very special finds. Who would have thought we would find Blue Quandong in the middle of a garden city like Singapore.

Elaeocarpus Angustifolius, known in India and South East Asia as the Marble Tree, is also referred to as the Blue Quandong. Native also to the tropical rainforests of northern Queensland, the wood of this rainforest tree is highly valuable and utilised in furniture and boat building. These deep blue, almost perfectly round, fruits have a sour taste and work great in tarts and jams. Though, we think presenting these beauties simply halved on a plate with some vanilla ice cream is perfect enough! The seeds are commonly polished and used in jewellery such as Hindu prayer necklaces called Rudraksha. In Australia, they are often used in seed jewellery, like that made by one of our favourite social enterprises of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council , the Tjanpi Desert Weavers

As many of you may have noticed, RiverMint Dining is currently working between Perth and Singapore. Although our bookings have been limited in Perth, we are doing plenty of culinary research and workshops in Singapore. It is our hope that upon return to normal operations in 2019, we will be able to bring new skills and inspiration to our pop up events and catering options. 

Singapore is world-renowned for its food scene. Think of a cuisine and you are sure to find it in this small but vibrant island country. Food here is a national obsession and a uniting link between the various cultures that make up its population. Go to a local hawker's market and the main ethnic groups are represented - Malaysian, Peranakan, Chinese, Kristang, Indonesian and Indian. Eating at a local hawker's market or shopping mall food hall is generally the most popular pastime. Dishes like Haianese Chicken and rice, Chilli Crab, Roti Prata, carrot cake (made with eggs not carrot!) and Laksa are just the start of an enormous repertoire. It is our hope that we can glean new inspiration here whilst in the process learning how to meld food cultures and preserve the integrity and simplicity of an ingredient.

Keep watch for our next blog post where we present a new Asian influenced kangaroo recipe!

 

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Bunuru and Valentine's Day

Bunuru and Valentine's Day

As the weather heats up and the season of Bunuru approaches, we see the Jarrah and Marri trees blossom, bursting with fragrant white flowers. The heat of the hottest season of the year is tamed by the afternoon sea breeze and cooled by icy summer treats and nibbles for those with a sweet tooth.

It is the perfect time to treat a loved one to homemade desserts for Valentine's Day. Why not try a special three-course dinner? Or hire a private chef to design a 5-course degustation menu, complete with aphrodisiac seafood and delightful petit fours.

Here's a few recipes that are simple, yet exciting. They introduce unique native ingredients in a light and romantic way, and are bound to impress that special someone. For extra recipes and ideas on growing ingredients for this Valentine's Day, be sure to check out the recent blog post by Tuckerbush. 

Rivermint Chocolate Truffles

Makes 20 mini Chocolates
 
200g good quality dark chocolate
100g White chocolate or milk chocolate
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
80g thickened cream depending on thickness
10 sprigs River Mint, leaves removed and chopped
1 x small half dome chocolate mould required
 
CHOCOLATE MOULD/OUTER SHELL
1.   On low heat place dark chocolate in a small-medium bowl over a pot of water (make sure bowl does not touch the water). Melt the chocolate slowly, until liquid. If you want a truly smooth shiny truffle, it is best to temper the chocolate.
2.   Coat the chocolate moulds swirling it around (use pastry brush to fill in the empty spots) and then tip it over onto a cooling rack placed over baking paper to empty out the excess chocolate, 5-10 mins. Place mould in the freezer for approximately 10 minutes, remove and coat again with the melted chocolate. This time refrigerate while making the Chocolate River Mint Filling.
CHOCOLATE RIVERMINT FILLING
3.    Chop the white/milk chocolate into small pieces, mix together with powdered sugar and salt.
4.   In a small saucepan heat to hot but not boiling the cream, then add the chopped River Mint and blitz with a hand blender. Put aside for 20 minutes to infuse the cream.
5. Put cream mix back on heat and bring it back to hot again, then pour over the chocolate pieces and stir until smooth (you may have to place the bowl over a pot of boiling water if it doesn't completely melt). Let sit approximately 20 minutes until cooled and thickened. Remove mould from the fridge, place the chocolate filling in a pastry bag and fill moulds 3/4 full, tap mould down a few times on counter top to remove air bubbles. Top with remaining melted dark chocolate. Tap & remove excess chocolate with a spatula and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour until firm. Turn out and keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Choc Coated Candied Quandongs

200g Quandongs, halved and kernel removed

100g fine castor sugar

100ml water

100g dark or milk chocolate

  1. Bring water and sugar to boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer until it becomes a syrupy consistency. The quandong halves and coat lightly with the sugar syrup using a pastry or basting brush.

  2. Place quandong halves on a baking sheet and into an oven at 170 degrees to dry out slightly for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Toss in extra castor sugar.

  3. Melt the chocolate carefully over a bain marie. Using toothpicks, dip the quandongs halves in the chocolate to coat, then placem with hollow side down, on a cooling rack to allow excess chocolate to run off.

  4. These lovely choc coated quandong halves can be placed, when cooled and set, in little chocolate boxes alongside squares of honeycomb to impress that special someone.

Macadamia, White chocolate & 

Lemon Myrtle Parfait

 

Makes 8 servings or ‘slices’

Parfait

700ml thickened cream

5 egg yolks

3 whole eggs

150g white chocolate

100g castor sugar

2 tsp Lemon Myrtle powder

1 cup roasted macadamia nuts, chopped

Ginger Syrup

2 tbsp chopped red back ginger root

2 red back ginger leaves, washed

200g castor sugar

200ml water

½ tsp vanilla paste

 

  1. Combine white chocolate and 200ml of the thickened cream in a bain marie over boiling water in a saucepan. Slowly stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and the consistency is smooth.

  2. With a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the egg yolks and whole eggs and castor sugar until thickened and pale in colour. Slowly add the chocolate cream mixture.

  3. Add the lemon myrtle powder and allow mixture to cool, infuse and thicken in the fridge.

  4. Beat the remaining cream until medium peaks form. Slowly fold this through the chilled parfait mixture, taking care to leave the mixture light and airy (don’t over mix). Sprinkle in the macadamia nuts.

  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, cover with piece of baking paper and cling film. Place in coldest part of freezer for 10 hours or until set.

  6. To make a creamier parfait, place in an ice cream churner set to frozen yoghurt, then transfer to loaf tin and freeze.

  7. To make syrup, place sugar and water in pan and heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Add more water and sugar if you prefer a thinner syrup. Let syrup cool and sit for two hours to infuse the ginger flavour.

  8. Heat syrup once more once desired ginger flavour has been reached and strain syrup through mesh strainer to remove the ginger root and leaves.

  9. To serve, turn out parfat on to board and slice, like a loaf of bread, into 2 inch slices. Place on tray and back into freezer to set before serving on a plate. Top with ginger syrup and some mango slices to the side.

 

Sustainable WA Prawns

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Sustainable WA Prawns

Do you ever ask your fishmonger or restaurant waiter where the seafood you are eating is coming from? It is an important question, and one that can drive and change the way fish and shellfish are caught and then sold here in Australia.

We are a long way from achieving and maintaining the sustainable fishing practices of countries such as Norway, which currently holds the title for most sustainable fishing in the world. However,   by making an informed decision about what fish we buy and eat, keeping in mind those species which are 'over-fished', each individual contributes to the development of a completely sustainable fishing industry.

Let's take a look at the local market and a big local favourite: West Australian prawns. It is important to remember that eating local does not always mean that you are eating sustainably. See below for a list of WA prawns and their sustainability status plus the best seasons and ways to prepare them!

 

Wild caught Endeavour and Banana Prawns: Fished in the tropical waters of northern WA (and QLD), banana prawns are short-lived and fast-growing (these are two good signs). Stocks are healthy and these prawns are caught by otter trawler (at the sea surface) in WA, minimising sea bed and habitat impact. There is still a problem with by-catch reduction, with many species such as turtles and endangered sea snaked being caught up in the fishing equipment. Small-scale WA fisheries do not appear to be having a major impact on the decline in turtle numbers. So eat banana and endeavour prawns on occasion, perhaps chilled in a salad or tossed through pasta, but take care not to eat them everyday!

Western King Prawn: Available almost year round, King Prawn stocks are considered stable from fisheries including Exmouth and Shark Bay. It is still recommended that these be eaten in moderation as bottom trawlers are still used to harvest King prawns and the effects of this on the habitat are still to be seen. If anything, it would be more sustainable to eat Spencer Gulf King prawns from South Australia as the sustainability rating here is much higher. But, keep to Shark Bay and Exmouth if you prefer to stay with WA and watch out for their 2017 rating. King Prawns are perfect marinated with lemon myrtle and pepperberry and charred on the barbecue.

Tiger Prawn: These are meaty and tender and a big favourite. Wild Tiger prawns are also caught by otter trawler off the tropical north coast of WA, having a low impact on the muddy seabed. Those caught over in Queensland are said to have more of an impact on the habitats of the seabeds. Again, they shouldn't be eaten everyday, so stick to reputable fisheries when buying and try to eat when mainly in season ( Summer and Autumn). If available, farmed Tiger prawns are much more sustainable and are fed with non-fish feed, therefore not impacting wild fish stocks at all. Tiger prawns are beautiful just butterflied and glazed with butter and gubinge. They can also hold their own in a curry or casserole.

Most importantly, stay away from imported farmed prawns from parts of Asia including China and Vietnam where native prawn stocks are being displaced by farmed species and coastal habitats have been destroyed (i.e: Vannamei or White leg prawns are not sustainable and are fed on fish oil and fish feed...... they're not terribly tasty either).

To keep up to date with Australia's fish and seafood stocks and to understand more about which species are sustainable, check out the fantastic mobile phone app Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide here. Let's all work together to make WA and Australia one of the most sustainable fishing countries in the world.

 

 

 

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In Keeping with Kambarang

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In Keeping with Kambarang

The wildflowers are here at last. A sign of Spring and the Noongar season of Kambarang, we here in Western Australia are blessed to witness this season of birth with an array of colours and scents emanating from wildflowers growing in gardens, fields and along walkways. People from all over the world visit W.A just to see this spectacle and to enjoy the mild climate of Perth and its surrounds.

Most importantly, many come to try the best food that this region of Australia has to offer. There is no better time on the Noongar calendar to enjoy freshwater shellfish and water fowl than during Kambarang. The south west Australian native, Marron, is in abundance throughout Kambarang and Birak. Its sweet, delicate flesh pairing perfectly with an emulsion dip made with native lemongrass and desert limes. Fresh water crayfish, like Gilgies and yabbies, are also a treat.

And of course, as the rain recedes and the Christmas tree (Moodja) start to blossom, there is also an abundance of native game, much of which was traditionally hunted and is now protected. Game birds and their eggs, including squab, pigeon, water fowl and cockatoo as well as kangaroo, frogs and turtles were all eaten as the Noongar people moved from inland wetland areas back towards the coast. We will feature a blog post and recipe soon about the very special Magpie goose....... something different to try as we approach Christmas perhaps? This is also the perfect season for what many aboriginal communities consider to be a delicacy - Bardi grubs.  They have a delicate almond taste when roasted and are a big favourite with bush food fanatics who know where to find them.

Many of the different native wildflowers and fruits are used in the RiverMint kitchen during Kambarang. On the menu are pickled and candied Quandongs, Jarrah flower honey, Moodja flower syrup, Peppermint gum (Wonil) infused olive oil, Wattleseed bread, Boab ice cream and aniseed myrtle roasted yams and tubers. It is an exciting time for experimenting in the kitchen. So get your hands of some of the best ingredients the Noongar season of Kambarang has to offer and start cooking!

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Exotic Pearl Meat

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Exotic Pearl Meat

It's big in Asia. In fact, about 70% of all Pearl meat currently leaves Australian shores, destined for high end restaurants in Singapore, Japan, Shanghai and Hong Kong. There it is quick blanched, chopped and stir-fried into delicate, elegant dishes.   

The remaining 30% makes its way to fine dining establishments on Australia's east coast and to a handful of restaurants here in Perth and in Broome. Chefs who can get their hands on it and whose food cost budget allows (Pearl meat fetches over $100/kilogram) jump at the chance to work with such a prized ingredient. It is hard to get, which is why we don't see it appearing on ice at the local fish monger. 

Pearl meat comes from the largest oyster in the world, the Pinctada Maxima. Pearls from the silver-lipped pearl oyster, found in the coastal waters off Broome in the Kimberley, are highly sought after. In fact, the pearling 'industry' first started with settlers in the Pilbara region in the 1860s eventually moving to the shell laden waters of Broome. To learn more about the history of the pearling industry in the Kimberley check out the following website.

Most importantly, long before the pearling industry, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people used pearl and shells for ceremonial purposes and the meat as a food source for centuries.

With recent approval by the State government for the construction of a multi species hatchery at the opposite end of Western Australia in Frenchman Bay, Albany, it seems the amount of pearl meat that may soon be available to West Australians will increase. Not only will this aid the economy and create jobs, it will boost export market potential and allow the meat to appear on more menus throughout the state. How exciting!

Generally pearl meat is lightly tenderised before cooking. But, texturally it is not as chewy as Abalone (unless you overcook it) nor is it as soft as say, scallops. It has a minerally,  fresh-from-the-sea taste to it which can take on light subtle flavours whilst still holding its own.

The best way to cook it? Don't overcook it first of all. Unless it is being braised, thinly sliced pearl meat can be quickly seared in the pan for no more than 10 seconds each side. We like to serve it raw on RiverMint menus seasoned with native flavours including finger lime, bloodroot, native lemongrass and a touch of Geraldton Wax oil. It also works beautifully just flash fried with sugar snaps, mirin, Tamari and ginger. Or try braising sliced pearl meat slowly for 2 hours in a basil tomato sauce. 

If you would like to get your hands on some pearl meat, have a look at respected pearl farmers such as Clipper Pearls or Great Southern Shellfish. Otherwise, if you are in Broome why not check out the awesome Willie Creek Pearl Meat Cook-off, held annually as part of the Shinju Masturi Festival in September each year. This year's winners from Matso's Brewery, served the pearl meat ceviche style marinated in lime and tequila and topped with champagne poached apple and spiced potato crisp. Delish!!

 

 

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The Season of Djilba

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The Season of Djilba

There's a change in the air. The windy, cold and rainy days are slowly giving way to warmer sunny days. We can see the Willy Wagtails emerging slowly and scattered plots of white and pastel flowers are starting to bloom. The pale pink Boronia flowers are also starting to shine. And don't forget to take cover - Djilba is also magpie (Koolbardi) season so they will be swooping if you get to close to their nests! 

The season of Djilba is well and truly here. To the Noongar people this is a transitional season, the season of conception.  People and animals alike are starting to venture further out of their homes to bask in the warm sunshine and prepare for the upcoming explosion of colour that is wildflower season, Kambarang. Traditionally this was also the season when the Noongar people inland started to move back towards the coast in preparation for the warmer months.

Djliba is a good time to start preparing garden beds for planting native edibles as the soil warms up during the day. Be aware though that the nights are still pretty clear and cold.

In the kitchen, ingredients are still somewhat limited and not in such abundant supply as they are in other seasons like Djeran and Kambarang. Emu and their eggs are still a great source of protein, as is Kangaroo meat. The Pearl meat harvest has also started in Broome and paired with ripe Blood limes (or Red centre limes), this delectable meat is the perfect interlude to the return of fresh, in-season seafood.

Other ingredients to experiment with during the season of Djilba include the eponymous Bush tomato (Kutjera). It's a fantastic ingredient that is in severely short supply at the moment. If you manage to get your hands on some, be frugal! Bush tomato can be used in dips, as a marinade or rub with kangaroo and also turned in fantastic sauces and condiments or added to scones and breads.

Then of course, if you are lucky enough to have access to some Emu Plum trees (Podocarpus Drouynianus), the fruit can be seen growing, especially throughout the Karri and Jarrah forests along the Bibbulmun Trail. Although reasonably tasteless, Emu Plum, which is the largest native fruit to be found in the South West, has a stunning colour that can compliment the plate up of any seasonal dessert.

The white and pale pink flowers of the West Australian native, Geraldton Wax, are in flower everywhere now.  Here's a simple recipe using Geraldton Wax. This is a RiverMint Dining favourite and is aways a hit with clients as the cuttings provide a subtle piney but nutty flavour to the cooked cream. After quickly blanching some sprigs of Geraldton Wax in boiling water, follow the recipe below to make your own native inspired dessert:

Geraldton Wax Set Creams          Serves 6
650ml whipping cream
2 tbsp grated lime zest
1 tbsp lime juice
10 sprigs Geraldton wax (with flowers if possible), blanched quickly in boiling water
130g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
A pinch of salt
4 x gold gelatin leaves, soaked in cold water for 2 mins and squeezed out.

1. Place the blanched sprigs into a saucepan with the cream. Bring to a gentle simmer, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add lime zest and juice, salt and vanilla. Simmer one minute longer. Then set aside for 1-2 hours to infuse.

2. Bring cream mixture back to the boil, stirring frequently until the cream bubbles up almost to the rim of the pan. Take off the heat and remove the Geraldton Wax sprigs. Add the softened gelatine leaf, stir until completely dissolved, then strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring jug. 

3. Let cool slightly before pouring into ramekins or small dessert glasses. Refrigerate for four hours or until set. Can be garnished with crystallised Geraldton Wax flowers and Geraldton wax syrup.

Let us know what you think if you try out this recipe and enjoy the sunny mild days of Djilba.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

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Bunya Nuts

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Bunya Nuts

A recent visit home to Queensland would not have been complete without driving through the Bunya laden mountain areas of the Sunshine Coast via the iconic and beautiful areas of Eumundi and Yandina. Watch your head though, when it's a bumper season in the Bunya Mountains (Boobarran Ngummin), there are Bunya knobs falling from a great height all over the place! 

With a subtle flavour similar to chestnuts, the Bunya nut (or Gummingurra as it is traditionally known by the Gubi Gubi people of the SE Hinterlands) is in fact not really a nut at all, but a fantastic source of starchy carbohydrates. Aboriginal people of South east Queensland survived and thrived off Bunya nuts for many centuries and to this day still use them to prepare traditional nut cakes and breads. The Bunya mountain reserves are in fact managed by the Bunya Murri Ranger project, whose custodians continue to have a strong spiritual and cultural connection to the mountains. 

Nutritionally Bunya nuts are made up mostly of water and complex carbohydrates, with a touch of protein and magnesium. They are gluten free though, so perfect for making gluten free bread.

It is hard to get great fresh Bunya nuts in Western Australia and often the frozen product is utilised. However, keep your eyes open for the giant trees and knobs in local botanical parks and random areas throughout the City of Vincent and the City of Perth.

In the RiverMint kitchen we particularly like to roast and salt thinly sliced Bunya nuts as a garnish or ground up and used in a bunya vanilla cake, similar to using almond meal. Pureed it needs some decent roasting and seasoning to avoid losing its delicate flavour. 

Bunya nuts pair really well with mild seafood such as scallops as well as vegetarian dishes containing sweet corn or green leafy vegetables. And they are especially good in parmesan cheese biscuits!

If you are visiting Queensland's Sunshine Coast I would highly recommend learning more about these amazing trees and the historical, cultural and spiritual connections that they embody . The annual Bunya Dreaming festival, held every Australia Day, would be the perfect place to start! 

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Makuru Pop Up Dinner

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Makuru Pop Up Dinner

RiverMint Dining recently held its second pop-up dining experience at Riki Kaspi's The Cooking Professor, in Mt Hawthorn. Cosy, and vibrant and decorated with illustrative art by Jodie Davidson, the dining space provided an interactive environment for guests to taste and explore ingredients from the season of Makuru.  

On arrival, guests were treated to canapés and welcome drinks featuring Broome Pearl Meat, Bunya nut and truffled Emu egg. It was great to see some new faces in the mix and to connect with return guests who attended our first pop up, Celebrating Djeran. 

Following a beautiful Welcome to Country by Noongar elder and guest Aunty Neta Knapp we began the sit down meal for Moments of Makuru with a drinks list featuring Swan Valley wines from Garbin Estates and Upper Reach Wineries as well as Matilda Bay Dirty Granny cider and Feral Brewery beers. 

The interior of The Cooking Professor provided an intimate and beautifully curated space for Jodie Davidson of Nature Art to display her colourful and clever illustrations, water colours and sculptures of Australian animals, It was such a lovely collection of work and a privilege to be able to exhibit them alongside our menu.

We tried to reflect the transition from sea to land throughout the Moments of Makuru menu whilst offering comfort from the rainy, very wintery weather outside.

Moments of Makuru

    Shaved Smoked Crocodile, Confit Jerusalem artichoke, Pepperberry spiced rhubarb, cucumber, nasturtium

    Exmouth King Prawns, Native lemongrass and Gubinge glaze, Sea Rocket and Baby Pigface, Burnt Citrus, Prawn head emulsion, Blood root

    Davidson Plum Sorbet, Atherton Ginger syrup, Caraway crisp, Wild fennel

    Seared Kangaroo fillet, Kangaroo tail croquette, braised red cabbage & WA apple, Illwarra plum chutney, game jus

    Sauteed winter greens and fungi : Rapini, Ice Plant and wild mushrooms, Ruby Saltbush

    Heirloom Carrots and Braised Fennel, Creamed Omega walnuts

Wine-poached Southern Forest fruits with Native Berries (Pink berry, Munthari, Lilly Pilly, Illawarra Plum), Chestnut Cream, Chocolate Sable, Lemon Aspen

Sandalwood Nut Fudge & Davidson Plum Truffles

Lemon Myrtle Tea & Choc Wattleseed Espresso

It was a fantastic and boisterous night filled with laughter and discovery and the reward was some great feedback. Even better was the discovery of some food blogger diners whose fantastic photos and blog posts truly captured the essence of the night. Be sure to check out Sandy Lim's blog post and photography featuring Moments of Makuru  on her blog sanlive.com and let's not forget Perth food bloggers and fanatics @food_and_I who posted a neat video and photos. It was great to meet you and we hope to see you exploring native ingredients with us again in the future.

A special thank you to our indigenous and non-indigenous suppliers whose produce and guidance is invaluable. We hope in 2018 to start hosting pop ups not just in Perth but further afield in Fremantle and the Swan Valley. 

RiverMint Dining caters for corporate and private events and functions from a discovery canapés party at a private residence to native-inspired executive grazing tables. Our pop up dinners are a unique dining event featuring foraged, wild harvested and plot grown ingredients usually only available in limited amounts. They are very special to the Rivermint Dining team and we always look forward to holding the next one with a new season in mind

Photo credit: Sandy Lim sanlive.com

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Emu and Eggs

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Emu and Eggs

The seasons of Makuru and Djilba were the traditional times of the year when Noongar people would hunt and eat Kangaroo, Emu and Emu eggs, possum and bandicoots, to name just a few. They did not farm raise animals or cultivate the land, but instead followed the six seasons carefully and took cues from the land with regards to food sources and land management. 

Emu was an extremely valuable source of food for aboriginal people and it required a huge amount of skill to hunt them........... have you seen an Emu run?! Once caught, it was skinned, feathers saved, and roasted on the fire or under coals.The fat from the intestines was considered a delicacy.  

Perfect when cut across the grain and grilled medium rare, a beautiful piece of emu fan fillet still features prominently on menus throughout Australia. Marinate a nicely portioned piece of fan fillet in wattle seed, garlic and rosella juice before quickly pan-searing. Emu is extremely lean and high in iron, protein and vitamin C. Over-cooking the meat will therefore draw out all moisture and juiciness and leave your fillet tough and very 'gamey' tasting. The emu drums and rump fillets can also be slowly braised to create a succulent wintery meal.

Another beautifully rich treat is Emu eggs. They do take some time to cook and one emu egg is the equivalent in size to about 20 chicken eggs, so be sure to have at least five people around for frittata! They taste quite mild, less rich than duck eggs, but also have a higher content of oil than chicken eggs. 

In some areas of Australia the eating of emu eggs was in fact forbidden, such as with the Walgalu people of the Tamut Valley in NSW, where the emu population was sparse and over exploitation of any animal when it came to hunting was strongly discouraged for fear that it would become extinct.

Observing seasonality and sustainability with regards to all food sources, especially emus and their eggs, was of great importance to the aboriginal people. They only took from the fat of the land and nothing more. Try emu and emu eggs when in season for a truly delicious and nutritious meal and consider seasonality. Emu recipes are welcome.........

 

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Seaside Forage

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Seaside Forage

Is it celery? Or is it parsley? It's got stems the texture and look of celery but it tastes strongly of parsley with a hint of the the ocean.......... its Sea Parsley.

One of the many edible plants found along the West Australian coast, sea parsley is a big favourite with chefs at the moment. Added to salads, as a garnish or to form the base of a sauce, this salty celery-flavoured parsley can be found amongst rocks and sand dunes all along the coast. It can even be grown in our gardens.

There are many other coastal greens that have been trending in Australia's best restaurants including but not limited to:

 WA Samphire: Also known as Sea Asparagus, Samphire lines the coastal dunes and estuary banks in clumps of deep green fingers. It is salty and crunchy and works beautifully with fish and in small salads. Harvesting occurs between November and February and it generally turns woody and dormant in the winter months.

Dune Spinach: Also known as Barilla or Coorong Spinach, this plant is covered in time swollen water storage cells and grows extensively in beach vegetation. It is lovely sautéed and fruits in the season of Kambarang,

Crystal Ice Plant: A close cousin of Barilla, this plant is native to WA and also grows in the sand dunes. It is a green succulent, with thicker leaves than the dune spinach which turn slightly grey in the summer and has pink, yellow or white flowers tips in summer.

 Pigface: One of our first blog posts introduces Pretty Pigface. To read this post click

It is always advised to seek guidance from those who can identify plants and who collect in a sustainable way with biodiversity in mind. Strict laws pertain to foraging in Western Australia and licenses should be obtained if you wish to collect these ingredients instead of using a supplier.

Coastal greens can also be grown in garden beds around Perth and Western Australia. If you would like to try your hand at growing some of your own native vegetables such as sea parsley visit the Tuckerbush website to see where you can get a hold of them and start using them in your cooking!

 

 

 

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