Get to know native ingredients at Carriageworks Night Market

Saltbush, wild fennel and wild mustard flowers

Saltbush, wild fennel and wild mustard flowers

Kylie Kwong is bringing native produce to the people at this year's market in Eveleigh.

Finger limes, pepperberries and Davidson's plums may be found on restaurant menus and in local gins as chefs, growers and distillers increasingly look to Australia's indigenous culture for inspiration, but the presence of native ingredients in the average Australian home kitchen is still somewhat rare.

Kylie Kwong wants to change that. For this year's Carriageworks Night Market in Sydney she has developed a program that brings native ingredients out of the professional realm and into a more relaxed setting. An advocate of Australia's native foods, Kwong has invited the country's top kitchen talent, Aboriginal elders, scientists and farmers to share their knowledge with the public through cooking demonstrations, touch-and-taste sessions and conversation.

Carriageworks Night Market

Travelling from South Australia, Mike and Gayle Quarmby of Outback Pride Fresh (suppliers to Quay, Billy Kwong and Wildflower among others) will showcase new-season produce such as marsdenia leaves and flowers, muntries, passionberries and karkalla, and use the opportunity to engage with the public. "We can come to the big smoke and get feedback about what people want to cook with," says Gayle.

For those who don't know their desert limes from their finger limes, Gayle recommends trying something versatile to begin with such as saltbush (great in salads, stir-fries or baked into bread) or warrigal greens, which work well in a cheesy quiche. Tasmanian chef Luke Burgess (late of Garagistes) will work alongside The Agrarian Kitchen to serve steamed oysters with native basil and lemon aspen dressing. His advice is to start small and think about substitution: try native thyme in place of regular thyme (perhaps this garlic and thyme chicken), for instance. "Generally these ingredients are grown wild so you get an intensity of flavour that you don't always get through cultivation," he says.

Cook with Australia's native ingredients

Analiese Gregory, of Hobart's Franklin, and Josh Niland, of Saint Peter in Sydney, will be working their magic at cooking demonstrations, while the likes of savoury prawn and myrtle doughnuts from James Viles (Biota), kangaroo empanadas from Danielle Alvarez (Fred's) or quandong and macadamia sablé tarts from Flour & Stone will be offered.

Native pepperberry growing at Reedy Creek, SA for Outback Pride Fresh

As well as the whole host of local restaurants, producers, breweries, distilleries and community groups setting up stalls, the Night Market will also see Yarrenyty Arltere Artists unveil new artworks, Dwayne Banon-Harrison of Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness demonstrate traditional fire-making, and Indigenous author Bruce Pascoe speak on Aboriginal foods and the environment.

"It's as if finally as a nation we've stood up and acknowledged our First Nations people and their food culture as they should have always been acknowledged," Gayle says.

See you in the queue for a wallaby skewer.

Carriageworks Night Market, 9 February, 5pm-10pm, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh, NSW. Tickets $10 (children under 12 free) from carriageworks.com.au.


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