At Loam, Aaron Turner turned heads, bringing a Noma-like sensibility to cooking the food of Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula. Now at Igni, in Geelong, he has taken it up a notch, cooking with fire to bring a greater sense (and taste) of immediacy to pristine ingredients, while simultaneously making the larger experience more relaxed. It's a great way to dine. "This marron dish is all about letting the fire and smoke do the work, setting the marron flesh and charring the leaves for flavour," says Turner. "The finger lime and Jersey cream add acid and fat and bring it all together."
- 4 live marron (about 250gm each)
- 4 young soft cabbage leaves, preferably Savoy
- 75 gm unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to serve
- 2 tbsp Jersey cream (see note), lightly whipped to soft peaks
- Pulp from 3 finger limes (see note)
- 1Kill marron humanely keeping tails intact (see note). Bring a large saucepan of water to a rapid boil, then add marron one at a time, cover and boil until they turn red (30 seconds to 1 minute). Plunge into iced water to stop cooking, and drain well.
- 2Add cabbage leaves to boiling water in saucepan to just wilt (about 30 seconds), then drain and refresh in iced water.
- 3Peel marron tails and remove meat. Pat dry with paper towels, brush with melted butter and season to taste. Pat cabbage leaves dry with paper towels, brush with butter and lightly season, then wrap around marron tail meat, brush with more butter to seal edges and secure with a toothpick. Refrigerate to set butter (10-12 minutes).
- 4Light a fire of kindling-sized pieces of red gum or other well-dried Australian hardwood, allowing them to catch fire; allow the flames to reduce for a less acrid flavour (10-20 minutes; see note). Char the marron parcels by rolling over the flame until blackened and marron meat has just cooked (3-4 minutes). Remove toothpicks, brush with extra melted butter, serve with a dollop of cream and squeeze finger lime pearls on top.
Jersey cream is available from select grocers. If it's unavailable, use the best high-fat cream you can find. If you don't have access to a wood fire, you can char the marron parcels on a wire rack over a gas flame, or finish under a hot grill. Finger limes are available from select greengrocers. RSPCA Australia's recommendations for killing crustaceans humanely are to first render the animals insensible by placing them in the freezer (under 4C - signs of insensibility are when the tail or outer mouth parts can be moved without resistance); crustaceans must then be killed quickly by cutting through the centreline of the head and thorax with a knife. For crabs, insert a knife into the heat. This splitting and spiking destroys the nerve centres of the animal.
Drink Suggestion: Sauvignon blanc fermented on skins.