I’ve spent the last while wandering along the coast a little to the north of Broome, WA. I have been in search of quiet camps and places to throw down the swag that are off the tourist routes.
The one thing about the coast between Broome and Cape Leveque is that it is a great mix of long, sandy beaches followed by rocky cliffs, and large, and I do mean large sheets of low lying reefs that abut the beaches.
When the tide goes out, a wonderland of rockpools is exposed for the enjoyment of all. And as there are literally hundreds of species of marine creatures to be found in them, they are also a great source of food.
The best time to explore is at night because during the day the little creatures will duck under cover and away from your eager gaze.
I once found enough tucker in a 15-minute forage to make up a meal with oysters for entree, and blue swimmer crabs for main. But there was just one critter I couldn’t come at: a sea slug. Or if you like, a trepang, beche-de-mer or balate. And it’s this rather ugly looking echinoderm that the Makassans traded with the Aboriginal people of Arnhem Land hundreds of years ago.
Evidence abounds in the form of artwork showing the ships they plied the straits in, the guns they brought and possessions left behind in an obvious exchange of gratitude.
It must have been almost unbelievable for our original inhabitants.
It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and also as a food source.
Now, I can come at the medicine bit, but having a waiter plop a slug down on the table in front of me isn’t going to get my gastric juices flowing. In fact, it would almost guarantee a delivery of another kind.
I’m told that it doesn’t taste like much and is eaten in some Asian countries in the belief that it will have some kind of effect on your nether regions; I can only imagine the exchange if the restaurant failed to get the portions just right.
“Excuse me waiter, my mate’s slug is significantly bigger than mine and I’m wondering if you can fix it?”
Suffice to say, there’s no chance that a slug of any kind will be finding its way into my mouth and down my throat any time soon.
But here’s a couple of more palatable Asian-inspired things that have made their way on to my plate recently, so enjoy, and keep an eye out for rockpools – they’re a great source of protein.
SLOW BRAISED BEEF RIBS
- 1kg beef ribs, dusted in flour
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced,
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 410g tin diced tomatoes
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a hot casserole dish, brown the ribs in batches, and set aside. Add more oil and then add all the other ingredients except for the tomatoes and stock, and heat, stirring until well incorporated and par-cooked. Arrange the ribs over the top of the vegetables and then introduce the tomatoes and stock. Top up with water if required then stirring frequently, bring the mixture to the boil and cook on high for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to as low as you can and place a lid on the casserole dish. Cook for a minimum of two hours, or until the meat is falling away from the bone.
Serve with potatoes and your favourite greens.
This recipe is ideal for the slow cooker, too.
CHAR SIU BARRAMUNDI
- 1kg barramundi fillets or other firm fleshed fish
- 4 tbsp char siu sauce
- 2 or 3 spring onions, chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- ½ cup freshly torn coriander leaves
- 2 tbsp, fresh ginger, cut into match sticks
Mix all the ingredients together and marinate the fish in a ziplock bag for at least a couple of hours in the fridge.
To a medium/hot fry pan add a dash of olive oil and cook fish until just done.
Serve with steamed rice.
CURRY PORK SALAD
- 300g cooked pork tenderloin, cut into small cubes
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 orange, cut into segments
- ¼ cup celery, diced
- ¼ cup spring onion, chopped
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 orange, juiced
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
In large bowl toss together pork, rice, orange, celery, onion and raisins. In small bowl, blend reserved juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, curry powder and salt.
Pour dressing over salad; toss gently to coat all ingredients. Place salad in a serving bowl, garnish with the peanuts.