What is karkalla?

Beach banana, pigface – whatever you call it, this native succulent adds a welcome salty hit and juicy crunch to fish dishes, salads and stir-fries.
Karkalla or pigface


What is karkalla?

Karkalla – also known as pigface and beach banana – is a succulent most commonly found among sand dunes and on cliff faces around the Australian coastline. One species, Disphyma crassifolia, has slender leaves that are plump, juicy, and more palatable than others. It grows further inland on salt flats and in clay.

What does karkalla taste like?

With an increased focus on indigenous ingredients, karkalla has come to the fore thanks to its unique fleshy texture and light salty flavour. Kylie Kwong uses it in her elegant dish of stir-fried Australian native greens, while it has also been spotted on the menus at Cirrus and Quay among other fine-diners. The briny flavour of karkalla makes it a no-brainer for fish dishes or raw in salads for added texture.

Where can I get it?

Although karkalla is common in the wild, foraging for it is illegal. Cultivated karkalla is of better quality, and can be found at growers’ markets, select greengrocers, Outback Pride Fresh and Marine Greens.

Pan-fried ocean trout with miso butter and karkalla recipe

Serves 4

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add four pin-boned 160gm skinless ocean trout fillets and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked to your liking (1-2 minutes each side for medium-rare).

  2. Transfer to a tray, cover with foil and leave to rest while you make the sauce.

  3. Wipe out the pan with paper towels, add 80ml sake, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tsp finely grated ginger, and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half (1-2 minutes).

  4. Add 100gm diced chilled butter a cube at a time, whisking until emulsified, then remove from heat and whisk in 1 tbsp shiro miso to combine. Season to taste, add 50gm karkalla and toss to coat. Spoon sauce over trout and serve.

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