Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bushfood- bunya nuts

After spending this morning thinking about what to do with the bunya nut my neighbor gave me, I decided to invent bunya nut hash browns.
I was pretty excited about the idea of cooking with a bush food, especially locally grown.

Bunya nuts are currently in season and where I live in Northern NSW people load them into a wheel barrow and sell them out the front of their homes for as little as 50 cents.

They bunya nut is a traditional Aboriginal food and grows predominately in South Eastern Queensland and Northern NSW around the great dividing range. Most bunya trees were lost due to land clearing but some early settlers planted the tree around their homes and this is where most of the supply of the nut comes from.

They are an ancient food dating back to the Jurassic era 180 million years ago. The nuts are contained in the conifer which needs to be broken apart. It is surprisingly easy to pull the cone apart and break open its segments to get at the nuts.

Once this is done, boil the nuts in salty water for 30 to 40 minutes. This should cook them through and also crack open the nut-shell a little. Once cooked and cooled the nuts need to be shelled, which is a little laborious. The nuts taste a bit like a cross between potato, brown rice and a nut.

Here is what you need to make the hash browns

20 shelled bunya nuts
3 free-range organic eggs
1 onion
salt and pepper

Grate the bunya nuts and the onion and then mix them with the eggs. Grind in some salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet and coat with olive oil. Scoop some ingredients onto the skillet and press down with an egg lift. You want it to be thin, like a pancake. Cook till crispy, then flip.

You can serve them with some aioli or use them as a base on which to serve lamb or moussaka.
The nuts can also be used as you would eggplant or zucchini as a filler in casserole as they absorb flavours well.