One of the best jobs of a food writer is tasting new and exciting foods and food combos.
Last week a summer food showcase of regional Queensland produce at Brisbane’s Restaurant Two, organised by the Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF), brought some new and newly established products into the spotlight.
There was delicious smoked aquaculture barramundi from the Sunshine Coast, buffalo milk cheeses and Davidson’s plum sauce from the Atherton Tablelands, rabbit from Stanthorpe, Achacha – a new tropical exotic fruit grown outside of Townsville, and free-range ham and bacon from Goondiwindi.
It was designed to tantalise the tastebuds of chefs, food buyers, industry representatives and food media, and expose some of Queensland’s lesser-known treasures.
“Fresh, farmed and unique summer produce from regional Queensland, such as wild-caught Red Throat Emperor from North Queensland and native rainforest fruits from the Sunshine Coast, is starting to find pride of place in both chefs’ and consumers’ kitchens,” said Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF) Associate Director-General Rob Setter.
“Queensland Chef David Pugh showcased kangaroo to other chefs and food buyers at the event, entertaining guests with dishes including seared kangaroo loin with beetroot risotto. (see recipe below)
“Our research in native foods, specifically, how to describe the flavours of new native foods emerging on to the market, will result in improved market awareness and greater consumer demand in the long term,” Mr Setter said.
“Chefs are already starting to experiment with native flavours such as lemon myrtle, riberries and native violets.
“Soon they will have access to an Australian flavour wheel to help them develop dishes that integrate these native ingredients more easily with traditional fare like beef and seafood.
Another goal of the event was assist chefs to offer more variety on their menus and create new dishes for discerning diners.
“Recent Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation research showed that one of the reasons the food service sector has been reluctant to use kangaroo is that many chefs don't really know how to cook it,” said David Pugh.
“These showcases help to profile some of the lesser-known Queensland produce and give chefs, in particular, an idea of how they can use it to their advantage.
“Chefs are always looking to push the boundaries of modern cuisine, and native foods really lend themselves to that challenge.”
Kangaroo, a low-cost and healthy lean meat, is an important industry in Queensland rural communities and contributes $50 million annually to the economy.
Seared kangaroo loin with beetroot risotto
6 x 100g kangaroo loin
2 large beetroot, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon horseradish, grated
1 salad onion, diced small
200ml red wine vinegar
1 dessertspoon castor sugar
½ orange, zest and juice
50g dried currants
200g Arborio rice
700ml chicken stock
75g grated parmesan
½ brown onion, finely diced
9 baby beetroot
2 large leeks cut into pieces
20ml extra virgin olive oil
In a heavy-based pot, over a medium heat, combine grated beetroot, horseradish, salad onion, red-wine vinegar, castor sugar, orange zest and juice, and currants. Stir.
Reduce heat to low and cook until reduced (1 hour). Reserve.
Heat 50gm butter in a heavy based pot on low and sweat brown onion.
Put in the rice and add chicken stock until rice is just covered and stir whilst cooking for 15 minutes. Add parmesan, 50gm butter and beetroot.
In a medium pot of boiling, salted water, cook leek pieces for 7 to 10 minutes, then drain.
Bring a small pot of salted water with unpeeled baby beetroot to the boil and simmer til cooked. Remove and rub off skins. Cut in half and keep warm
In a heavy based pan over high heat, sear seasoned kangaroo for 2 to 3 minutes each side and reserve.
Divide risotto evenly on six plates, place baby beetroot halves and pieces of leek.
Finish with kangaroo and serve.
Recipe by David Pugh, Restaurant Two