Monday, 21 January 2008

emu w pepperberry & rosella sauce

Anna from Anna’s Cool Finds is hosting her annual event, Taste of Terroir, where she invites bloggers to cook or blog about food from their local area.

Last year I blogged about Sydney rock oysters and this year I’ve gone all out with three native Australian ingredients: emu, pepperberries and rosella.

Emu is a wonderful meat. The taste is very strong and very gamey: deep red and full of iron. They combine very well with rosella, which is a wild hibiscus bud that tastes like strawberry and rhubarb.

To counteract the sweetness I used pepperberries, which have a very complex flavour that reminds me of cardamom, oregano, chilli, mustard and eucalyptus all in one.

Emu Steak w Pepperberry & Rosella Sauce
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2.
400g of emu fillets
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5 dried pepperberries, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons rosella jam
½ cup white wine
8 dried pepperberries
1. Whisk balsamic vinegar, mustard and olive oil until combined.
2. Add pepperberries and garlic and whisk through.
3. Pour the marinade over the meat and toss to combine. Leave for 3 hours.
4. Drain marinade off emu and reserve liquid.
5. In a frying pan over a low heat, add 8 pepperberries and the marinade and cook to soften the garlic.
6. Add the rosella jam and the white wine and bring to the boil, melting the jam. Stir the sauce continually so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Also squash the pepperberries a little so they release their colour and flavour. Remove from heat.
7. On a grill or barbecue, fry emu fillets for a maximum of 2 minutes on each side. Meat should be served rare since it’s very low in fat and overcooking makes it very tough.
8. Plate emu and drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.

The emu is an Australian native bird that features alongside the kangaroo on our coat of arms and, just like the kangaroo, it has a delicious, healthy red meat.

Emus are huge, flightless birds similar to ostriches and cassowaries. They can grow to around 2m tall (6ft7in) and have very long legs and necks. Their feet have three toes and the middle toe has a sharp claw that is used as a weapon when attacked.

Emu eggs are a beautiful dark green colour and carving patterns on the egg reveals layers of lighter green shell underneath.

Commercial emu farming started in Australia during the 1980s and has spread to large scale farming around the world including the US, China and Peru.

Emu is a very healthy meat and contains less than 150 calories per 100g. Compared to beef, venison, buffalo, turkey, deer and even ostrich, emu meat is higher in protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin B while lower in fats, calories and sodium.

Emu fat can be turned into oil hailed by many as a wonder-cure for an assortment of external problems such as a burn treatment, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, moisturiser, arthritis treatment, muscle and joint relief and pain killer. Both the American and Australia drug approval boards are currently reviewing research to see whether these claims are true and so far so good.

Australians consider the rosella, or Hibiscus sabdariffa, to be a native tree but apparently it was brought to Australia’s tropical regions thousands of years ago by Indonesian fishermen. High in vitamin C, rosella flowers are the calcyx of the plant and can be poached or turned into confit, tea, chutney and jam. As mentioned previously, they are a tart combination between strawberry/raspberry and rhubarb.

The pepperberry or Tasmannia lanceolata has also been known as the Australian Native Pepperberry, Mountain Pepperberry, and Alpine pepper. The shrub is native to the Australian south-east coast with the most populous stocks in Tasmania. Bushes grow to around 5m tall with large canopies and both the leaves are black fruit are edible.

It has long been used by east coast Aboriginal tribes for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Initially pepperberries have a fruity, complex flavour with almost no heat, but as the oils are released from the tiny black seeds the heat starts to resonate strongly and you can end up with quite a sensational burn. Growers advise to use one tenth the amount of pepperberries than you would use black pepper. The delayed release of the heat compound (polygodial) means you get a significant flavour from the pepperberry.

Berries can be freeze dried and then ground up in spice mills or you can purchase jars of berries in liquid. They are great in pepper mixes, marinades, stews and sauces and always impart a bright, purple hue to the food.


So this is my contribution to the Taste of Terroir event. Visit Anna’s Cool Finds to discover what other special recipes and foods appear from around the globe in 2008.


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  1. Fascinating and wonderfully local!

  2. I've cooked ostrich before which I bought in borough market but I've never seen emu for sale! Something tells me I can't get it here! Very interesting though....

  3. I've never tried emu, but I'd really like to! I love trying new things and this sounds pretty good to me!

  4. this should be the ozzie natioal dish - well maybe half the national disk ! well at least the entree. but seriously i would love to see this in print. the abc are publishing a #2 of home-cooked feast - this would be perfect.

  5. Amazing recipe using three ingredients I've never tasted, and two I'd never heard of before. Thanks for the great education! The emu looks amazingly good. And I like the sound of that pepperberry...slow heat, wow.

  6. It looks delicious! I like venison, wild boar, hare...
    The flavors with sound perfect for gamey meat.

  7. That's cool! I wish I could try it, but unfortunately I doubt any of the ingredients are available to me.

  8. These are new ingredients to me - an interesting read...

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