For over 50,000 years the plants and animals native to this incredible country have served as food for the people who live on it. But in our eagerness to continue the culinary traditions of the countries most of us travelled here from, and to embrace the cuisines of even more recent arrivals, the inclusion of these native ingredients into our national culinary identity has been regrettably slow.
Thankfully, many of these incredible foods are entering the mainstream, and ingredients like old man salt bush, lemon myrtle and Davidson plum are as common now on restaurant menus as they are in on the shelves of stores like ours.
Native Australian ingredients are not only delicious, they’re incredibly easy to use. In some instances their vibrant flavours emulate ingredients we’re already familiar with – pepperberry makes a fruitier, brighter alternative to traditional black peppercorns – while others, like quandong and wattleseed offer something new and distinct.
This simple recipe takes a classic dish – steak with salsa verde – and reinterprets it using native ingredients. The kangaroo (you could also use beef or lamb if you prefer) is coated with a well-balanced native seasoning mix of old man salt bush, citrussy lemon myrtle, and spicy pepperberry, and is served with a simple pesto filled with sandalwood nuts and seasoned with a sprinkle of desert lime. The traditional basil in the pesto is replaced with rocket to add pepperiness to the sauce, and to keep the subtle flavour of the nuts from being overpowered.
Delicious as it is, this recipe is only a simple example of how easy it is to integrate native ingredients into your savoury and sweet home cooking. Buy anything from our range of native Australian ingredients, available at your nearest The Essential Ingredient store and from our online shop, and you’ll soon find yourself integrating them regularly into your favourite dishes.
To make the pesto, blitz the rocket, parsley, garlic and extra virgin olive oil together in a food processor.
In a mortar, pound the sandalwood nuts with the pestle until well-broken (but retaining some larger pieces), then stir through the rocket, parsley, garlic and oil mix, as well the parmesan, pepperberry and desert lime. Season to taste and set aside.
Rub the kangaroo meat with extra virgin olive oil and season a little with salt flakes (to encourage a crust to form around the meat). Grill over a high heat until medium-rare, using a meat thermometer to ensure you don’t overcook it.
Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
While the meat is resting, combine the salt bush, pepperberry, lemon myrtle and salt well on a shallow plate. Coat rested meat, one piece at a time, in native seasoning mix by rolling it over the plate.
Slice meat thinly and serve with pesto. Makes an excellent accompaniment to roast vegetables or as the protein in a vibrant salad.