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Going native: Six easy ways to cook with Aussie grown produce

The thought of Australian food typically invokes uninspiring images of sausages, barbeques, pavlovas and meat pies. However, for over 50,000 years, Australia’s indigenous communities have been cooking and eating foods native to Australia.

Here are six of the most popular Australian native ingredients and some delicious recipe suggestions, which are sure to be a hit at your next dinner party.

1. Lemon myrtle

Lemon myrtle now regularly appears on the menus of some of Australia’s top restaurants. Like kaffir lime, the leaves are used to impart flavour and have a deliciously strong lemony taste and smell. Lemon myrtle is great in both sweet and savoury dishes, and you can use it fresh or dried and ground. It goes well with white meats like chicken and fish, is delicious in curries like Laksa curry,  and gives a gorgeous tang to desserts like Lemon Myrtle pudding.

Some easy recipe ideas:

Lemon Myrtle Laksa
Lemon Myrtle & Macadamia Nut Cheesecake
Lemon Myrtle Fish Cakes with Kakadu Plum Chilli Sauce
Lemon Myrtle Pudding with Macadamia and Lemon Myrtle Syrup

2. Finger lime

Finger lime is also known as ‘citrus caviar’. These delicate little pink bubbles pack a mighty taste and are literally like an explosion of tangy, limey citrus in your mouth! Use them raw as a garnish or mix them through salads, dressings and sauces in both sweet and savoury dishes. Two fabulous matches are with seafood and Mexican food. It’s also magic to mix with a gin and tonic!

Some easy recipe ideas:

Finger Limes with Oysters
Prawns marinated in Finger Limes with Lime Chilli Dipping Sauce
Finger lime pie

3. Saltbush

Ditch the Himalayan table salt and go native! Historically, indigenous Australians used to grind and roast saltbush seeds for damper. As you would expect, they impart a salty flavour to the dish. Saltbush is most commonly dried and ground or shredded into flakes, much like rock salt. The leaves can also be used as a wrap to cook meat or fish, and in salads. Use as a substitute for regular salt as a seasoning for soups, marinades, on a roast or just to add a bit of flavour.

Some easy recipe ideas:

Saltbush and mountain pepper squid
Saltbush Lamb Koftas + Saltbush Leaf Salad
Spice roasted pumpkin-fried saltbush

4. Bush tomato

Bush tomatoes (which actually look like more like sultanas) have a strong flavour that tastes a little like a caramely/raisin-like sun-dried tomato. A ground, dried version of the fruit is generally used as a spicy, flavour packed seasoning, for soups and curries, sprinkled on roast vegies and as a marinade for meats and seafood.

Some easy recipe ideas:

Risotto with Bush Tomato and Wattleseed
Bush Tomato Pasta Sauce
Bush tomato (akudjura) scones

5. Wattleseed

The seed of Australia's floral emblem has a nutty, chocolatey, freshly-roasted coffee flavour. After harvesting, the seeds are roasted, which allows them to develop the deliciously rich nutty, coffee flavour. Ground wattleseed can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, from baking breads and muffins, to sauces, casseroles and of course decadent desserts with chocolate, nuts or coffee flavours.

Some easy recipe ideas:

Wattleseed Chocolate Cookies
Chocolate and wattleseed self-saucing pudding
Wattleseed Tiramisu

Note: don’t pick your own: there are around 1000 species of wattleseed but not all are edible and some are actually toxic!

6. Paperbark

In the Top end of Australia, cooking vegetables and meat wrapped in moist paperbark is still a popular method of food preparation. As paperbark is a natural material, it can be used as a food wrap to impart a delicate smoky flavour. Use with meats such as chicken, pork and veal, seafood like scallops, and roast vegetables. As paperbark is natural and biodegradable it’s a much healthier option than baking sheets or foil!

Some easy recipe ideas:

Lemon-infused fish cooked in paperbark with herb butter
Pork Medallions wrapped in Paperbark
Paperbark barramundi and saltbush wild rice

Where to find them?

Fresh produce

You can find native Australian produce in a variety of settings. For example:

Dried foods

Plenty of online options to stock up your pantry. Some Oxfam stores and Coles stores nationally also stock a small range of dried foods. Head to the following websites to browse for native Aussie produce options:

Intertain Chef’s are happy to incorporate some native ingredients into your dinner party menu - just ask when booking with Intertain.

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