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Native Game

Emu Bao


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.


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.


  • 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


Australian-style Popiah


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!


Makes 10


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


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


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!


500g plain high protein flour

1 tbsp tapioca or corn flour

salt and peper

2 c water


  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.


Emu and Eggs


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.........



Aussie sawdust - Smoked magic

Aussie sawdust - Smoked magic

It's time to say good bye to hickory. Yes, I know the American smoker chips are dense, stick well to the meat and give those ribs that 'authentic' smokey flavour. But, there are so many options here in Australia, and especially in Western Australia, why buy something not native to where you live and in such ready supply?

When it comes to choosing the right smoking chunks for the right meat, this largely depends on preference and the smoked-flavour intensity you desire. Select chunks if you intend to simply add them to your coals when placing meat on the BBQ. We use a Smoking gun in the RiverMint kitchen which requires fine sawdust. This is a great little gadget, as is a portable grill-top smoking box, and saves on clean up. Try to make sure the wood chips are seasoned (as in dry, not fresh cut) to help with a clean burn and avoid smouldering.

And what type of wood chunks you ask? Well, WA's Jarrah wood from the Southern forests produces a thick smoke with an intense flavour. Box woods are a favourite for some, but for us the smoke is too thick and powerful and takes over the flavour of the meat.  Two big favourites, Tasmanian Oak and WA Ironbark, are great for those wanting a deep smokey flavour and pair well with beef and lamb due to their longer burning times. Speaking of lamb, native rosemary when used for smoking wood imparts a medium herbaceous flavour to poultry and lamb and is easy to find, it can also be used half seasoned.

Apple and Cherry wood from Manjimup smells divine and imparts a sweet subtle flavour - excellent for chicken and fish or seafood. It burns quickly though, so have some heat ready to ensure the meat is cooked through. On a native foods note, Tea tree has a fantastic smell and is an all time favourite for Kiwis when preparing meats for a hangi. We also love using Sandalwood chips and lemon myrtle when preparing fish.

I try to steer away from Pine and many Eucalypts as the smoke can leave an acrid almost "ashtray in the mouth' aftertaste - rather unpleasant. One rule of thumb used by many smoking enthusiasts is if the smoke smells acrid and sticks to the back of your throat causing you to squint, then that is how the meat will taste. 

As you can see the list is endless! There are so many different flavour profiles that can be achieved through smoking and many different foods that can be smoked. Try smoking some of your favourite cheddar or sour cream with Marri wood chips, then serve with some local honey and a sweet Muscat.

Roasted Roo

Roasted Roo

Take some time to learn more about our native game meats and their nutritional value, flavours and textures.