Vue de Monde,
Native ingredients, are experiencing a revival. Embraced by the country’s leading chefs, they are transcending “bush tucker” status and being subtly integrated into contemporary restaurant menus.
The shift has been especially noticeable in the past five years; it is part of the global trend to celebrate localism in food. The Australian chefs using indigenous ingredients most successfully are notable for their skill and restraint in incorporating them in dishes with flavours and techniques more usually associated with Europe or Asia. Such chefs are highlighting indigenous ingredients not just because they offer a point of difference, but because they taste so good.
Here are some of the ingredients most favoured by top chefs, and some places where you can try them.
A traditional indigenous food all over Australia, kangaroo was enjoyed by British settlers who compared its deep-red flesh and gamy flavour to venison or hare; bush housewives made the tail into a hearty soup. For some decades in the 20th century it fell from favour but from the early 1990s “roo” returned to menus around Australia. It is a popular choice among health-conscious diners because of its very low fat content and high protein and mineral levels. The choicest cuts may be stir-fried with Asian flavours or simply grilled: it is best cooked rare or medium. In Darwin, kangaroo burgers are sold at market stalls, while Adelaide’s buzzing, casual new Street ADL bar and eatery is putting a street-food spin on kangaroo: pulled kangaroo sandwiches and roo shoulder to share feature on the proudly South Australian menu. Upstairs from Street ADL, fine diner Orana is operated by the same team and has a strong indigenous focus.