Bushfood (also called bush tucker) refers to any food native to Australia and used as sustenance by the original inhabitants, the Australian Aborigines, although it is sometimes used with the specific connotation of "food found in the Outback while living on the land". It includes both animal and plant foods native to Australia.
Examples of Australian native animal foods (meats) include kangarooo, emu and crocodile. In particular, kangaroo is quite common and can be found in many normal supermarkets at prices comparable to beef. Other animals, for example goanna and witchetty grubs, were eaten by Aboriginal Australians and thus qualify as bushfood in every sense of the word. Fish and shellfish are culinary features of the Australian coastal communities.
Examples of Australian native plant foods include the fruits: quandongg, kutjeraa, muntriess, riberryy, Davidson's plum, and finger lime. Native spices include lemon myrtlee, mountain pepper, and aniseed myrtle. A popular leafy vegetable is warrigal greens. Nuts include bunya nut, and the most identifiable bushfood plant harvested and sold in large scale commercial quantities is the macadamia nut.
Knowledge of Aboriginal uses of fungi is meagre but beefsteak fungus and native 'bread' were certainly eaten...enjoy
Bush Tomato Soup
- This Bush Tomato Soup is perfect for those cold days or as a starter for a traditional bush tucker feast. This soup can be reduced further to make a pasta sauce. The flavour will strengthen with time so it is best to make it in advance and heat to serve
- INGREDIENTS - to serve 6 100g dried, ground Bush Tomatoes 30g dried Mountain Pepper 20 very ripe, red tomatoes 2 large onions, finely diced 1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil 1 teaspoon (5g) salt fresh basil leaves to taste
- METHOD 1. Bring a pot of water to the boil and immerse the fresh tomatoes for about 30 seconds. Lift out, peel and chop coarsely. 2. Saute the onions in the olive oil in a medium size saucepan over medium heat until soft and tender. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. 3. Add the ground bush tomatoes, mountain pepper and salt. Cook for 45 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally. 4. Add the fresh basil a few minutes before the end of the cooking time. 5. Remove from heat and puree until smooth.
Anzac Biscuits with Wattle Seed Damper
- INGREDIENTS 1 cup (90g) rolled oats 3/4 cup (125g) plain flour 30g ground, roasted Wattle Seed 1/2 cup (125g) sugar 1 tablespoon golden syrup 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 1/2 cup (125g) melted butter or margarine 2 tablespoons boiling water
- METHOD 1. Set oven at 160C 2. Mix oats, flour and sugar together 3. Mix golden syrup, wattle seed, soda and boiling water. While frothing add melted butter and pour into dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. 4. Place spoonfuls on to oven tray, allowing room for mixture to spread. 5. Bake at 160C, for 18-20 minutes 6. Allow to cool on biscuit rack
300gr crocodile meat, cut into thin slices
30gr peanut oil
20gr basil leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped
20gr white wine vinegar
200ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
Heat peanut oil in a fry pan, sauté seasoned crocodile pieces for about 2 minutes then set aside.
Blend basil, parsley, garlic and olive oil and white wine vinegar in a food processor until smooth, set aside.
Slice mango thinly and arrange on a plate.
Place crocodile slices in the centre, drizzle basil sauce around the plate and garnish with fresh herbs.
- Serves 2This recipe gives a very hearty soup which is a meal in itself. Allow plenty of time to make it as the tail is best marinated for two days before cooking commences. Like oxtail, long slow cooking is essential to extract the full flavour and the bone marrow. Allow 3 hours cooking time.
Southern Game kangaroo tails
Marinade 1.2 dl olive oil
1.2 dl wine vinegar
1.3 dl water
2 teasp. salt
6 bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
Boil all marinade ingredients together for 5 minutes and set aside to cool. Do not use an aluminium vessel for cooking or marinating. Southern Game Meat's packs of kangaroo tail come already into appropriate 3 cm sections. Remove any thick sinews from the meat if necessary, place in a bowl and pour over the marinade
Bush Herb Pasta and Chicken
- PASTA¾ cup white flour¼ cup of wholemeal flour1 egg¼ tsp dried, ground, native pepper leaf¼ tsp dried, ground lemon myrtle
- SAUCE250g chicken breast fillet2 Tbsp butter1 tbsp lemon juice¼ cup sliced almonds1 clove of garlic, finely chopped1 onion, finely chopped1½ tbsp white wineflourpepper1 tbsp cream1 cup of silverbeet or warrigal greenleaves, roughly choppedCombine pasta ingredients and prepare fettuccine by hand or machine according to instructions. Dust chicken breasts with flour and pepper. Heat half the butter in a frypan and brown the breasts slowly on each side. Add the lemon juice and season with pepper. Cover the pan and sauté gently, over low heat, until the chicken is tender, (10- 15 minutes). Remove the chicken from pan. Melt remaining butter and add almonds, brown over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for one minute and add the wine. Cook the fettuccine for 2 minutes, adding the silverbeet for the last 30 seconds. Combine pasta, chicken, almond mixture and cream. Serves 2
This is a traditional bread baked in the coals of an open fire or in a Dutch Oven (huge lidded cast iron pot) but nowadays we bake it in a normal oven. Of course there are as many variations as there are days in the years but the basic recipe is as follow:
4 cups self-raising flour
3/4 - 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and mix in the sugar.
Rub in the butter with your (clean) hands until a fine breadcrumb texture is achieved.
For a well in the top of the flour, pour in the milk and water, and mix well with a knife until the dough come clean from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and silky, like a baby's bottom.
Shape into a mounded loaf, (some people cut a deep cross in the top) and bake in a preheated oven, 200 c / 400 F, for 25 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 180 c / 375 f and cook a further 10 - 15 minutes until done. The loaf should be a light golden brown colour and sound hollow when tapped.
If you are "game" try cooking it on a camp fire; nothing beats that extra smoky flavour, especially using Australian Eucalyptus wood to give it that special something. If you are cooking in an oven at home, try putting a few Gum Leaves in the over to smoke as your are cooking the bread.
Damper is very similar to Irish Soda Bread, and probably developed from recipes brought over by Irish immigrants/convicts.
Variations of the basic recipe are seemingly endless, but you could try substituting other liquids, such as beer for a darker colour/flavour, or varying the ratio of milk to water, and so on. Try adding more sugar and butter and some dried fruits for a dessert damper. Basically use your imagination.
If you are cooking on an open fire you could try wrapping the dough in aluminium foil before you place it in the coals, or even try wrapping the dough around a stick and cooking suspended over the flames.