Favourite Foods from Down Under “Australia”

crocodilesWhen you say “Australia”, the first thing people think of are crocodiles, kangaroos, capybaras, and koala bears. Some may think about “Shrimp on the Barbie”, Foster’s Beer, or the inland regions with miles and miles of dessert and tumbleweed. The Outback, also known as the bush, is home to the Aborigines as well as well-adapted wildlife, though much of it may be missed by the casual observer.

Many animals, such as red kangaroos and dingoes, hide in bushes to rest and keep cool during the heat of the day. Birdlife is prolific, most often seen at waterholes at dawn and dusk. Huge flocks of budgerigarscockatooscorellas and galahs are often sighted. On bare ground or roads during the winter, various species of snakes and lizards bask in the sun.

red kangaroos and dingoesAustralia also has some of the most exquisite sunsets, the Aurora Australia, and fantastic foods! And the Aussies are proud of all of these treasures!

Aussies can go the whole way with an Australian BBQ and throw on a gourmet meal with all the trimmings or just have a few chops and snags with bread. Whatever happening on the day they’ll go along and the same with the meat. it can be a bit charred, or a bit under-cooked depending on your preference. Throw in some beers and wines and enjoy the day with your mates.

The unique thing about cooking in the outback is the wood. Desert timber is dense, burns slowly and generates great heat. Each timber shows different characteristics.

One of Australia’s favourite ingredient that naturally occurs in Australia is the fruit of the Quandong, which is a member of the sandalwood family. The bright orange fruit grows around a large woody kernel and is sweet and sharp in flavour. It’s popular in tarts and as a jam, but I reckon it pairs wonderfully with game as a sauce or jus.

Kangaroo with quandong chili glaze

Kangaroo with quandong chili glazeWhile this dish uses quintessential Australian ingredients, you may substitute others, such as venison for the kangaroo, and dried apricots instead of quandongs. You can use fresh, frozen or reconstituted dried quandongs (which are best reconstituted in port or orange juice). Kuzu, or kudzu, is a Japanese thickening agent that can be purchased from Asian stores. corn flour or arrowroot may be substituted, but kudzu does yield a superior result.

Pavlova

PavlovaLegend has it that, Western Australian chef Herbert Sachse of Perth’s Hotel Esplanade was inspired by the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her 1926 and 1929 tours of Australia, creating a desert recipe that was as light as the ballerina herself. With its wispy meringue base, smothered in a layer of freshly whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit and tangy passion fruit pulp, it’s no wonder it has stayed firmly cemented in modern Australia’s food culture.

Chiko roll

Chiko rollAustralia’s love affair with the simple Chiko roll began back in 1951, when it made its debut. Frank McEnroe – a boilermaker from Bendigo, Vic. – invented the cabbage, carrot, onion and beef stuffed snack. He originally designed the Chiko roll as take-away food at football matches; the intent being to make a snack that could be held in one hand, the other hand would of course be occupied holding a cold beer.

Aussie Meat pie

Aussie Meat pieFirst records of the Aussie meat pie come from early colonial days, when they were sold by vendors from street-carts – most famously by the Flying Pie man whose athletic feats are the stuff of legend. Nowadays meat pies are served everywhere—from sports club canteens to service stations to gourmet bakeries. The meat and gravy filled, flaky pastry case has earned its place in Australian culture.  Ever since 1990, Aussie’s pay homage to this meal with a national even—the ‘Official Great Aussie Pie Competition‘ .

Lamingtons

LamingtonsWho would rightfully walk away from this desert? There are many versions of the lamington’s origin, and it is still in dispute as to whether it was in Australia or New Zealand. Whoever was responsible for taking sponge cake and first dipping it in chocolate icing, then rolling it  in desiccated coconut should be commended!. One legend has it that Lord Lamington of Queensland was served the treat by his personal chef in 1900. Upon tasting this new delicacy, he requested it be named after him. Today the lamington can be found in every true-blue Australian bakery.

Vegemite

VegemiteIn 1922 businessman Fred Walker commissioned a young chemist, Cyril Callister, to develop a spread from used brewer’s yeast – that would have otherwise been dumped – a naturally high source of vitamin B.

The unlikely product was named ‘Vegemite’, a name drawn from a hat after being submitted in a national naming competition, and marketed by Walker as “delicious on sandwiches and toast, and improving the flavors of soups, stews and gravies”. Since then Australians have developed an attachment to their breakfast and sandwich spread.

Since then many curious combinations have emerged: Vegemite-cheese sandwiches, Vegemite and avocado on toast, Vegemite pizza, and, in Tasmania, Vegemite scrolls.

Sausage sanger

Sausage sangerGiven Australia’s love of the outdoors, superb weather and the rise of the portable barbecue, perhaps it was inevitable that the ‘sausage sizzle’, Australia’s answer to the US ‘wiener roast’ and a mainstay of community fundraising – was born.

As simple as a single slice of bread folded over a sauce-drenched sausage has also become a classic lunch-time meal for Australians and their love of slang – sanger being a venerable term for sandwich. Authorities even tailored infrastructure – from the 1970s introducing public barbecues to many parks and reserves – so that they can be enjoyed pretty much anywhere.

Weet-Bix

Weet-BixNow the breakfast choice of Australians, Weet-Bix was first produced in Leichardt, an inner-Sydney suburb, in the 1920s. Its creator, Bennison Osborne, wanted to bring a “budget-friendly health biscuit” to the Australian breakfast table.  Since then, the high-fiber breakfast biscuit has been served with milk – hot or cold – and hastily eaten before the dreaded sogginess sets-in.

Sir Edmund Hillary – who was the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest – ate them on his celebrated expedition

Emu Kababs

Emu KababsEmu has high iron content, is virtually fat-free and is low in cholesterol. Smoked and served cold (similar to beef jerky) or as a pizza topping works perfectly!

For a real gourmet twist, bake as a pie made up of emu meat, smoked, feta cheese, red wine, sun-dried tomato, onion and Tasmanian black pepper — all in a filo-pastry crust.

Pea and ham soup

Pea and ham soupPea and ham soup is a simple offering that has been served up in farmhouse kitchens for decades The perfect hearty winter meal that arguably has British origins. Add sliced frankfurter or smoked sausage to make it even heartier.

 

 

Salt and pepper fried calamari

Salt and pepper fried calamariQuick and easy to make: the squid or calamari is covered in salt-and-pepper batter, then deep-fried.

This pub staple is often served as a snack with a side salad and dipped in sweet chili sauce.

 

Lamb leg roast

Lamb leg roastMany a wandering son or daughter returns home for Sunday lunch when mum’s cooking a lamb roast.

It’s the garlic, rosemary and olive oil that make this piece of meat delicious and tender. It’s then served with enough baked potatoes to end any family feud.

Though its origins may be beyond Australian borders, Aussies will proudly say only they know how to put on a good one.

Fish ‘n’ chips by the beach

Fish 'n' chips by the beachIf it’s wrapped in yesterday’s news, it’s an Australian version of fish ‘n’ chips. The sun is out, the water’s crisp and you’re hungry. What to go for?

Australia has some of the best seafood in the world and that means you’re almost guaranteed fresh fish, served with salt and lemon, wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper or white wrapping.

John Dory fillets 

John Dory filletsFound commonly in Australian waters including Sydney Harbour, John Dory is a popular fish variety in local cuisine.

Battered and fried and served with chips, or pan-fried with herbed oil on a bed of mashed potato with salad, this is a very popular and versatile, meaty fish.

 

Balmain bugs

Balmain bugsA species of slipper lobster that lives in the shallow waters around Australia; the flattened small-scale fish has no claws and only its tail contains edible meat.

But like a lobster, it’s worth the slippery fingers and dining dedication.

 

Tim Tam

Tim TamPerhaps the most desired Aussie biscuit. Yet another biscuit!

Arnott’s (which produces Tim Tams) say that around 35 million packs are sold each year.

That’s 400 million biscuits at an average of 1.7 packs per Australian. The much-loved chocolate biscuit is made up of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate filling and coated in melted chocolate. No wonder you can now find them in supermarkets around the world.

Crocodile Kababs

Crocodile KababsAlthough crocodile leather is made into wallets, belts and handbags, its meat is consumed by locals — though it’s definitely more of a delicacy and not widespread.

Croc meat has a similar texture to pork chops when cooked, and a rather sweet fish taste.

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