Australian Functional Ingredients – by Vic Cherikoff

Mike Daly's Trans-Tasman cuisine

There are a few chefs around the world who stand up and recognize new foods and flavours and work with them until they are happy with the results. Sure, lots of chefs work with the same old ingredients and get famous – look at Jamie Oliver with his use of just 5 ingredients – garlic, lime, chilli, olive oil and basil and which are in 90% of his dishes.

But I’ll be presenting the work of a few of the more innovative chefs who explore new flavours over the next little while. Sure, mates like Benjamin Christie, with whom I continue to work all over the world and Mark McCluskey who joined us back in the days of my TV series, Dining Downunder are amongst these chefs. However, they are already well known in the culinary world or have their exposure vehicles like my show, which can be seen on YouTube, Joost or Hulu thanks to Benjamin’s efforts in getting them there.

My intention is to present a few lesser known chefs (not to say that they are not well known in their homelands) who just might become a little better recognized for their passion and commitment. I also invite chefs themselves to send me their ideas and images of their dishes using authentic Australian ingredients and I’ll include those which inspire me even without tasting their creations.

This blog focuses on Mike Daly, an adopted Kiwi Chef with whom I have done a few events in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Mike’s passion for great food has metamorphosed into what he calls Trans-Tasman cuisine.

But I’ll let Mike describe Trans-Tasman cuisine in his own words and I highly recommend that you click on his pic and checkout Mike’s own photography of his trans-Tasman dishes:


What is Trans-Tasman Cuisine?

Trans-Tasman cuisine is an infusion of Australian Aboriginal and New Zealand Maori indigenous foods. These cross over ingredients are then used to create modern day dishes using only the freshest regional produce available from around New Zealand and Australia. These ingredients include kangaroo, wallaby, possum, emu, barramundi and yabbies from Australia and from New Zealand; crayfish, baby paua, green-lip mussels, Waikanae crab, eel, venison.

How does Trans-Tasman Cuisine work?

I take ingredients like Maori horopito pepper and combine it with Australian Alpine pepper. This cross over flavour will then be used to create indigenous flavoured salt, vinegar, oil, chutney, rubs, ice cream and so on. It will also get used as pepper in the kitchen instead of the traditional pepper everyone else uses. I do this with a lot of the other indigenous ingredients and I am enjoying developing new products.

What Indigenous flavours do I use in my Trans-Tasman cuisine?

The authentic Australian ingredients include Lemon myrtle sprinkle, Alpine pepper, wild rosella (raspberry & rhubarb), Forest anise, Forest peppermint, Red Desert Dust (tastes like Cajun spice), Wildfire Spice, Wylde Thyme, Yakajirri (bush tomato mix), Mintbush, Fruit Spice (fruit flavour enhancer), Wattleseed (chocolate, coffee and hazelnut), paperbark (smoky flavours), Rainforest Spice, lemon aspen, desert limes, quandong, Illawarra plum, Gumleaf oil and riberry confit (cinnamon & clove).

From New Zealand, the Maori and some conventional NZ foods include; Kawakawa, horopito, flax seed (harakeke), karengo (NZ seaweed), avocado oil, manuka, seakelp, piko piko (native NZ fern), NZ horseradish, Titoki liqueur, kawakawa beer, NZ macadamia products, NZ honey products, nasturtium, South Island lavender and some other kiwi ingredients are used to keep this cuisine exciting.

Why Trans-Tasman food?

The main reason why I like using these ingredients is the fact that every single ingredient has many different flavour profiles and this, in turn, makes it easier for me to come up with new recipe ideas. My passion for food drives me to think outside the square and to strive to be innovative. I like to be doing something very different from the guy next door. When I first arrived in New Zealand in 2000 I was excited to discover ingredients that were new to me and my creative juices were set alight. By 2005 my Trans-Tasman Cuisine was born…

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Vic Cherikoff