Australian Cuisine 101: A Guide to Traditional Australian Dishes
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Every country and every culture has its own set of meals that represent the staples and the core of the cuisine of that particular country. Like burgers for the US, pizza for Italy and escargots for France, Australia has its own delicacies that, even though they might sound strange to someone who grew up in a different culture, are absolutely delicious and actually quite simple to prepare at home.
So, on this post, I invite you to take a look at some of Australia cuisine’s most popular dishes that you can make at the comfort of your own kitchen. Here we go!
Let’s start with something sweet, and what better treat than the popular lamingtons. There are several stories involving the origins of this sweet dish, including various high society folks, and a personal favorite might be the one where Lady Lamington only had stale sponge cake, so she had a cook dip it in chocolate and throw it in coconut. And really, that’s how it starts today as well.
Image credit: Instagram
The first thing to prepare is, of course, the sponge. You can make it at home, buy a cake mix and bake it, or just get a premade cake from the shop. The saying is that a day-old cake is the best for this, but you can experiment with different levels of freshness to find your ideal consistency.
Next, you want to melt down some semi-sweet chocolate and dip the sponge into it (the staler the sponge is, the less it will absorb) and immediately roll it in desiccated coconut. You can make variations using white chocolate and slithered almonds instead of coconut. This dish can also be made vegan – here’s a great recipe for a vegan sponge cake.
Eggplant parmigiana has been a staple of Italian cuisine for hundreds of years, but Australians took the dish and created something amazing by swapping out the eggplant for a lean meat and switching up the recipe slightly.
That said, it still keeps the main ingredients: Parmesan, crushed tomatoes boiled into a sauce and lots of Italian seasonings. Replace the layered eggplant with butterflied, beautifully baked chicken fillets covered in breadcrumbs and you’ve got a stunning meal that you will find in any pub, usually quite inexpensive. When making it at home, try to make the tomato sauce from scratch, it will make all the difference!
Leg of lamb
You might be expecting a leg of a kangaroo or something similarly exotic, but really what every Aussie enjoys is walking into mom’s kitchen and smelling the roast from the oven. It’s a fairly simple recipe, and the most important part is, of course, the roast. No matter which method of baking you use, you want to make sure you sear it to get a really nice crust on the outside. Using a non-stick titanium pan like the Scanpan will allow you to both sear it and reverse-sear it before cooking.
Make sure you add olive oil, garlic, and rosemary to infuse the roast with as much flavor as possible and you will have a delicious meal. All you need is a few complementary side dishes, and with those, you should think about textures: Creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy roasted vegetables and a sticky pan sauce to cover it all.
Let’s get back to the sweets – this recipe is so easy that it will certainly become one of your new summer favorites. First, let’s start with the base: the pavlova is made with baked meringue crusts, which you can actually bake in advance and store in an air-tight container. And meringues have only two ingredients: egg whites and sugar.
You want to make sure that there are absolutely no yolks in your whites because any fat will stop the whites from whisking up. Use room temperature eggs, and warm your sugar for a few minutes in the oven before adding it to the whipped egg whites one at a time. If you want to make sure your whites stay stable, you can add some cream of tartar, a few drops of lemon juice or a pinch of salt. Once the mixture is stiff and glossy, you want to bake it low and slow, because you don’t really bake meringues as much as you dry them out.
Once they are done, leave them in the oven with the door closed to cool down because a sudden change in temperature will crack the surface. Then layer the meringues with freshly whipped cream and as much of fresh fruit as you want. Berries are the traditional option, but you can go with whatever is in season, sweet and available.
Well, there you have it! A handful of the most scrumptious and popular dishes from the land of down under. So the next time you want to impress some Australian friends, itching to try something new or would like to have a taste of the land across the sea, you know exactly what you can make!
Want to feast and cook even more delicious Australian dishes? There’s no better (and fun) way to do so than to join a culinary vacation in Australia!