Australian native ingredients that were once a part of a thriving food culture, which has been sustaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities for tens of thousands of years, are now re-defining contemporary Australian menus. Dishes infused with native edibles, such as mountain pepper and sugar produced from insects, are arguably the new ‘Modern Australian’, with more and more chefs looking to add a traditional approach to their food.
These uniquely Aussie flavours are taking over the culinary scene, with many award winning restaurants being recognised for their extensive and innovative use of native edibles. This enthusiasm for native ingredients has seen chefs travel to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities to better understand the culinary qualities of these ingredients.
Consumers are leaning towards native ingredients not only for the unique flavour profiles, but also for the nutritional and ecological benefits. Take the quandong fruit for example, Australia’s native peach which boast twice as much vitamin C as an orange, or Australia’s response to spinach, the antioxidant rich warrigal greens. Native foods are naturally adapted to Australia’s environment and resistant to our extreme weather, making them ecologically sound. These benefits are igniting interest among consumers who wish to align their eating habits with healthy and sustainable living. On top of this, the use of native ingredients also allows chefs and consumers alike, to connect with the land in which they live and assist communities to gain recognition through dining experiences.
With up to 5,000 edible native species estimated, which accounts for almost 20% of Australian native flora and fauna, the opportunities for culinary innovation and growth in the industry are endless. Producers are popping up all over the country supporting these new industries, from Victorian eel farmers, to growers in South Australia who have initiated significant plantings of quandongs, bush tomatoes and native citrus.
As a multicultural country we’ve embraced flavours from all over the world, from South American paprika to Southwestern China’s szechaun, and now it’s all about the ingredients that are right here on our doorstep. With demand for this trend continuing to grow, it may just be time for you to take advantage of these local delights.
So, what’s stopping you from adding some of these home grown heroes to your menu? It can be as simple as seasoning a dish with mountain pepper or, if you are more adventurous, creating a deconstructed quandong pavlova! To assist in getting this trend onto your menu, Bidfood, Australia’s leading foodservice distributor, have released Advanced Australian Fare – a guide to using native edibles to create your own truly Australian dishes. View it now at bidfood.com.au/brochures.
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