I always love visiting my family; they live near several beaches that are covered in oysters and other tasty shellfish. It’s hard for me to get fresh shellfish where I live, so it’s always a treat to collect some at the beach. While gathering oysters from the shoreline I always manage to ‘accidently’ break open around half a dozen to a dozen oysters, so as a result I get to eat them straight from the rocks! This time I wanted to do something different with the oysters that I haven’t done before – make a homemade oyster sauce.
Oyster sauce is a thick brown sauce extracted from boiled oysters. It is a popular condiment used in Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, and is thick, dark and salty-sweet tasting. The sauce has a mild oyster flavour to it but no fishy taste, despite its name. It is very easy to make at home and is very tasty. The home made version is also made without any preservatives or caramel (colouring, to give it its appealing black colour). Continue reading
There’s a large old walnut tree in the work car park and every year yellow-tailed black cockatoo’s get to the walnuts before they have a chance to fully ripen. The cockatoo’s are pretty clever as they carry the unripe walnuts and drop them from a height onto the nearby concrete footpath to crack the walnut shells open. As a result, each year I miss out on the massive bounty of walnuts. So almost 3 years ago, (the reason why I say almost 3 years ago is because I made it back then placed it in a dark cool place and forgot about it. I was moving house recently and came across it while packing). I decided to do something different and picked the unripe green walnuts to try my hand at making nocino. Nocino (pronounced no-CHEE-no) is a dark liqueur made from unripe walnuts, that is delicately nutty and has subtly spiced flavour. Nocino is a traditional Italian liqueur that is perfectly paired after a rich meal. Most of the recipes that I have come across are very similar; some use more and some or less sugar, add or omit certain spices, vary the length of time. The liqueur should sit and mellow for the flavours to develop. It turns out it is also very easy to make, here’s how.
Cured pork tenderloin has the size, shape and resemblance of a salami stick and makes for a perfect quick dry curing project, which you can eat within a month of making it.
Lonza is the much smaller cousin of Lonzino. Lonzino is made from the loin of the pork which is a much bigger cut of meat and takes a lot longer to cure. Lonza is made from the tenderloin, which a very lean with little to no fat at all, which is what makes it such a quick project. Lonza is often likened to bresaola, which is a similar product but made with lean cuts of beef. Both lonza and bresaola have a mild, clean taste owing to the absence of fat. Since the tenderloin is very lean, the flavour of the meat is greatly influenced by the diet of the animal. Try and source a locally raised, heritage pork that has been allowed to forage and fed a diverse diet. Anything less will lead to an inferior product. If you’re able to spend the money, its worth it.
I have been wanting to cure an ostrich egg yolk for quite some time now. The problem with living on a little island is that it can be hard to find particular things; I couldn’t find ostrich eggs anywhere. Fortunately, on a recent visit to Melbourne I was able to find one at the Prahran Market. It was a nervous few days trying it get it home in one piece!
What’s better than pickled eggs? Pickled quail eggs of course! They are the perfect bite sized treat, just pop them into your mouth and go. The hardest part is not to eat the whole jar in one go! Off course, any food is better when its tiny. Besides looking great on a plate, their small size means they pickle much more quickly. Seriously does it get any better?
Basturma is a highly seasoned, air-dried, cured meat. It is traditionally made in Armenian, Turkish and Russian cultures. It’s usually made from beef, but was once made from camel meat. It’s cured, dried and coated with a highly spiced mixture called Chemen. Bacterial growth is prevented because the meat is dry cured with salt, and because fenugreek is a key ingredient in the paste. Fenugreek and garlic have antibacterial properties and fenugreek acts as a natural insect repellant.
It takes at least 5-6 weeks to cure, so make sure you make it in advance to when you will need it. Making Basturma at home does involve a few steps over a number of weeks, but if you can persevere it will definitely be worth it! Continue reading
As far as cured meats and charcuterie goes, this is one of the easiest to master. It’s great for beginners! The hardest part about making guanciale is waiting for it to air dry. Guanciale is a whole pork jowl that has been rubbed with salt, herbs and spices then air dried. It is also an economic project as the jowls are a fairly cheap cut and the ingredients are very simple. In my opinion it’s far tastier than bacon and even pancetta. It has a texture and consistency much like bacon but the depth of the flavour is much greater. It is similar to pancetta and can either be eaten raw if sliced thinly or cut thick and pan fried to add flavour to many dishes.