Access to ingredients that were once difficult to find has made cooking and experimentation with flavours a lot more fun over the past decade. We can confidently reach for a multitude of herbs and spices and create just about any type of cuisine these days. In fact many of us are more comfortable cooking with imported spices than the ones we have in our own backyards. Well, perhaps not our own back yards, but at least in our own country.
Juleigh Robbins has over 25 years of experience working with Australian native foods. Her journey to discover the ancient flavours of indigenous foods began with a search for something she knew as the ‘bush tomato’. This search turned into a partnership with the women from Laramba and other desert communities providing opportunities for them to harvest bush foods.
Juleigh says that using wild food to produce a delicious result all depends on how you tackle the cooking. Most of them take a LOT of cooking, wild food is not usually great to eat straight from the bush or tree. But just look at this gorgeous dish and you can see that native mint and quandong can very effectively jazz up a couple of lamb fillets…….
2 teaspoons dried native mint
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
8 × 100 g lamb fillets
olive oil, for pan-frying
½ cup Quandong and peach sauce (see page 149)
Mix together the native mint, mustard powder, black pepper and parsley flakes on a plate. Roll the lamb fillets in the herb mix to lightly coat all sides.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the seasoned lamb for about 2–3 minutes each side. Cover and rest the meat for a minute or two, then slice diagonally and serve with hot Quandong and peach sauce.
Quandong and peach sauce
olive oil, for pan-frying
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon finely chopped or grated ginger
1 small chilli, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup quandongs (fresh or frozen, or dry halves reconstituted in hot water)
1 large yellow-fleshed peach (clingstone are ideal), thinly sliced
½ cup sugar
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup red wine
salt and mountain pepper or freshly ground black pepper
To make the sauce, heat a little oil in a small saucepan cook the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli until the onion has softened. Add the remaining ingredients, except the salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the volume has reduced by half and the quandong and peaches have broken down in the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tune in to The Main Ingredient with Kelli Brett on Saturdays ABC Local Radio Digital – Online 5.30pm EST