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New Year Chin chow


New Year Chin chow

Here’s wishing everyone a fabulous 2019! No doubt you are still recovering from the madness of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. In Singapore, an even bigger celebration is about to take place - Chinese New Year!

All around Singapore hang red lanterns, stalls selling tiny red envelopes and paper offerings and retailers with food hampers containing fresh fruit, mandarins and dried mushrooms. It is a time for feasting and family, with the New Year’s feast menu featuring bottomless servings of Chinese herbal soups and bakkwa as well as Chinese desserts like steamed rice glutinous rice cake called Nian Gao and pineapple tarts. All to usher in a new year of prosperity and wellness.

Interestingly, in Traditional Chinese medicine there is an age old belief that the body has an internal temperature or energy known as Qi. The Chinese believe that finding a way to balance the Yin (Cold) and Yang (Hot) energies within our bodies can cure chronic ailments and sickness. So, by looking at the nutritional properties of certain foods, the Chinese have categorised each food into Warm, Cold and Neutral foods. With an understanding of our bodies and symptoms, food is then used to cure any imbalances.

The worldwide recognition and acceptance of Chinese medicine and its properties led us to consider and reflect upon the importance of traditional Aboriginal Australian medicines and herbs. Notably, to think about the spiritual healers within our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Ngangkari healers of the APY lands in South Australia, for example, are healers through family descent who pass on their knowledge from generation to generation.* Similar to Chinese medicine, the focus is on treating the spirit balance within the body. Unfortunately, Australia does not officially recognise the importance of Aboriginal traditional medicine and, in fact, South Australia is the only state where the Ngangkari healers work in collaboration with the mainstream health system.

As our time in Singapore draws to a close, we thought it fitting to experiment with a well-known Chinese dessert but with our own RiverMint twist, to pay our respects to the medicinal qualities inherent in native Australian herbs. And what is more refreshing and cooling during a hot Australian summer’s day than Iced Chin Chow tea?!

In Singapore, you can find grass jelly or Chin Chow in every supermarket in the fridge section ready to eat in packet or can form. Chin Chow is a jelly made with the leaves of the Mesona Chinensis plant, a member of the mint family. Often served with honey, soy milk or a sugar syrup, it is eaten after a meal to aid with digestion and heartburn. The jelly is also used in traditional milk teas or ‘bubble tea’.

Using native lemongrass, rivermint and eucalyptus to infuse our jelly, here is our unique RiverMint Chin Chow Iced tea recipe. We hope you enjoy making it and sipping on it over the hot months ahead.

Happy Chinese New Year and Chin Chin…….. or should we say ‘Chin Chow!’

* NOTE: To learn more about the place of Aboriginal traditional medicine in Australia visit the Creative Spirits website.

RiverMint Chin Chow Iced Tea (Serves 4)

For the tea

20g native rivermint sprigs

2 x green tea bags

4 cups boing water

100ml almond or macadamia milk, heated but not boiled

Raw sugar

For the jelly

20 native lemongrass strands

3 sprigs native rivermint, leaves picked

1 drop Essentially Australia Eucalyptus Blue Gum essential oil

2 litres water

8 tbsp tapioca flour

1 tsp agar agar powder + 4 tbsp water

  1. Steep green tea bags and native river mint sprigs in boiling water. Check for taste until desired strength is met. You may need to remove the green tea bags before the mint sprigs to get a nice balance. Add milk and sugar to desired sweetness until fully dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled.

  2. Place lemongrass and river mint strands and leaves in the water and bring to boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer with lid on for 45 mins until it is very fragrant. Turn off heat, add eucalyptus oil and allow to infuse for up to 3 hrs until the water is cool. Strain liquid. (There should be about 500ml liquid remaining after this process).

  3. Reserve half of the liquid and mix this gradually with the tapioca starch until it is paste like, strain through a wire strainer.

  4. Mix agar agar powder with 4 tbsp boiling water and boil whisking until it dissolves completely and turns into a paste.

  5. Bring the remaining reserved liquid back up to the boil and gradually add the agar paste and then add the tapioca flour paste into the liquid. Strain again, skim the top and pour into a small square tin lined with cling film. Allow to set at room temperature then transfer to fridge. Cut into squares.

  6. Take serving glasses and fill quarter full with ice, add two chin chow squares and top up with the milk tea. Serve with a long spoon, a straw and a mint sprig.


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.


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
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.
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’


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.


The Season of Djilba


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.









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.........



Piney Illawarra Plums : Daalgaal


Piney Illawarra Plums : Daalgaal

Known also as the Plum Pine and botanically as Podcarpus Elatus, the grape-like burgundy coloured fruit of the Illawarra Plum is a popular choice for bush tucker enthusiasts.

Native to the semi-tropical coastlines of Queensland and New South Wales, these fruit actually grow on the blue-black stalk that is connected to the dark seed cones of this large evergreen tree.

It is said that Illawarra Plums contain seven times the antioxidant levels of blueberries and are known to calm stomach cramps and encourage a healthy gastro-intestinal tract. What better reason to feast on these little gems? Though they are available frozen year round, the freezing process, we have found, tends to extract some of the subtle piney flavour of the plum. Consuming Illawarra Plums when they are in fruiting season over Autumn and Winter is therefore highly recommended.

There are many ways to use Illawarra Plums in cooking. They can be incorporated into fruit salads, smoothies and also used to make a gorgeous jam. We often poached them in a port reduction to accompany Emu fillet and turn them into a jelly to be rolled in chocolate as an after dinner petit four. They are fabulous lightly roasted with a touch of brown sugar also and served as a garnish to a chocolate dessert. Try them today!




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.

Not so Native Warrigal Greens

Not so Native Warrigal Greens

Look closely and you will see this plant everywhere! Warrigal greens, Tetragonia Tetragonoides, otherwise known as Botany Bay Spinach or New Zealand spinach, though considered a 'native' ingredient, is technically not. Warrigal is a word used on the east coast to mean 'wild' harvested as opposed to farmed and Warrigal greens were often eaten by settlers in Botany Bay as a green leaf vegetable. It is believed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people very rarely ate this plant.

However, with a high level of Vitamin C, this plant which is native to New Zealand and adopted as native to Australia, was eaten by Captain Cook's crew to fight off scurvy. Younger smaller leaves are less bitter than the larger older leaves. Due to the high levels of oxalic acid in this plant, it is advisable to eat Warrigal greens in moderation. After washing the leaves in the RiverMint Kitchen, we bash the plant with a rolling pin to release the acid, then cook in boiling water for two minutes. After immersing in iced water, the leaves are squeezed out and frozen for later use or chopped immediately for use in canapés and other dishes. 

For a quick and easy canapé dish using warrigal greens that many can find for free in their back garden or through Tuckerbush, click here. This recipe uses the green in conjunction with Native Lemongrass which adds a unique and delicate flavour to chicken and coconut.

Refreshing Rivermint

Refreshing Rivermint

It was quite easy, growing up in tropical Queensland, to stumble across the rambling River mint bush, or Mentha Australis, whilst bush walking through rainforest or along creeks. It is also prevalent in the Yarra River region of Victoria as well as the Murray Darling Basin of NSW and QLD.