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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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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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Celebrating NAIDOC Week

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Celebrating NAIDOC Week

It has been a pretty busy week here in the Rivermint Dining kitchen with catering and tasting events taking place throughout Perth. Today marks the end of NAIDOC week, an exceptional celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, arts, dance, food and history.

For those who are unfamiliar with NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week, now is a great time to learn more. It is held during the first week of July and celebrated in aboriginal communities as well as government organisations, schools and numerous work places. The first Sunday in July, the beginning of NAIDOC week, is a day of remembrance for the hardship experienced by the aboriginal and islander people followed by a full week of cultural celebration and recognition of aboriginal achievements.

As part of their NAIDOC week celebrations, Westfield Whitford City invited RiverMint Dining to chat with customers about some lesser known native Australian ingredients and to introduce them to new flavours. Over the course of the week we prepared tastings for upwards of 600 people, focusing on various ingredients in keeping with the season of Makuru including Geraldton Wax, Fingerlime, Kangaroo, Illawarra Plum and Old Man Saltbush. Our mini tasters were appreciated by all and met with lots of questions. Tastings such as Davidson Plum meringues and seared tiger prawns with fingerlime proved popular and it was great to see members of the general public exploring and discovering the real food of Australia and learning more about the importance of NAIDOC week.

We were also especially honoured and privileged to work alongside the Mark and Kerri-Ann and their team at Binjareb Park in Pinjarra, as we shared in their NAIDOC day celebrations on Saturday 1st July. RiverMint Dining prepared a simple three-course family style dinner for 18 guests featuring truffled emu egg, quick seared crocodile and braised kangaroo. It was lovely to meet new people and to further develop relationships within the aboriginal community as well as to see some of the artwork that makes the artists of Pinjarra so well-known throughout Australia. 

Throughout the week we catered and delivered platters of native inspired nibbles, canapés parties and gourmet grazing tables to many businesses and corporate bodies celebrating NAIDOC week. It was a privilege to be able to share such special foods with new clients and we look forward to working with them all in the future. Thank you to all our suppliers and wild harvesting communities, without whom we wouldn't have such amazing ingredients to work with during busy and exciting weeks such as NAIDOC week.

 

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