How To

How to source and cook with native Australian ingredients

Chef Luke Bourke shares his tips for cooking with Indigenous food.
Kingfish tartare with Davidson plum, sourcing and cooking with Indigenous food
Luke Bourke's kingfish tartare with Davidson plum

Luke Bourke, guest chef at Sydney Seafood School and a National Indigenous Culinary Institute alumnus, shares his knowledge for sourcing and cooking with Indigenous food.

“Most Indigenous food ingredients have healing and superfood properties,” says Bourke. “Nowadays it is becoming more accessible to get your hands on native ingredients but it’s important to remember to support Indigenous suppliers, such as warndu.com, nativefoodsonline.com.au and indigiearth.com.au. Those who follow the Aboriginal traditions when it comes to food – only take as much as you need and do not over-harvest the land – keep the food source in sustainable practices.”

5 Indigenous foods to try: Davidson plum, River mint, Pepperberry, Lemon myrtle, Finger lime
1. Davidson plum. 2. River mint. 3. Pepperberry. 4. Lemon myrtle. 5. Finger lime.

Five Indigenous food ingredients to try

1. Davidson plum

“If you eat this beautiful fruit in season and when ripe it will be sweet and juicy, so replacing strawberries or other sweet fruits for a Davidson plum works well,” says Bourke. “However, dried Davidson plum has a different flavour which is more tart and sour. Rub dried plum powder into a fillet of fish before pan-frying to elevate the flavour.”

2. River mint

“Mentha australis is native to Victoria and south-east Australia, found growing along rivers, creek beds and shady forest undergrowth. It has a sweet spearmint taste used to enhance sweet and savoury recipes. Traditionally the leaves were steeped in tea to aid stomach digestion. The delicate flavour makes river mint a perfect substitute for other types of mints and an ideal addition to the Australian native herb garden. I like adding it to my seafood dishes by flavouring an oil to dress the dish with.”

3. Pepperberry

“Mountain pepper leaf and mountain pepperberry (also known as Tasmania lanceolata or Tasmanian pepperberry) grows naturally in the forest and the cool climates of southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. It is a berry-like fruit with a sweet, aromatic peppery taste. The leaves, stems and berries produce approximately three times the antioxidants of blueberries. Pair with seafood, dairy, oil and vinegar-based meat marinades and salad dressings, and egg-based condiments like mayo or hollandaise. Traditionally, mountain pepper is used for its antiseptic properties and its flavour.”

4. Lemon myrtle

“It has a fresh aroma of citrus, with delicate menthol essence and a strong lemon flavour, which is sweet and refreshing. Lemon myrtle can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. The leaves can be a substitute for bay leaves in marinades, soups, stews, casseroles and roasts. The flavour is intense, so use sparingly (like you would a bay leaf).”

5. Finger lime

“The size of your little finger, but packing a huge nutritional punch, the finger lime adds a zesty vibrancy to any dish. Their popularity has increased globally in recent years, and the caviar-like pearls are used for savoury and sweet dishes. With its refreshing citrus flavour, fresh finger lime fruit is ideal for popping on top of a fresh oyster.”

Luke Bourke's kingfish tartare with Davidson plum

Luke Bourke’s kingfish tartare with Davidson plum

Gently combine 400g diced sashimi-grade kingfish, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 diced avocado.

Combine ½ teaspoon Davidson plum powder, 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons seaweed flakes and 1 teaspoon seaweed salt.

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the spice mix over the kingfish tartare, top with ½ teaspoon extra Davidson plum powder and chopped chives.

Serve with potato crisps.

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