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Are you making a specialty food?

What is Australian cuisine?

ipsedixit Jan 11, 2014 07:30 PM

Is there one, or a handful of, identifying or representative dish(es)?

  1. a
    Ama658 Jan 28, 2014 02:09 AM

    What a question! In addition to having lived in a few countries, I've worked in butcher shops in two suburbs here and run a cafe in Sydney.
    If you're talking general cuisine, I keep hearing it described as "Fusion" -- probably due to the significant Asian influence mixed with the strong british base. I think, though, there's a bit of friction and figuring it out right now as far as what real Australian Cuisine should be defined as :)
    Bangers & Mash are common, as are sausage rolls, meat pies, fish & chips. You've got typical pub grub galore.
    Sushi, roti, dim sum/yum cha, some great curries, excellent Thai food, I hear great things about the roti, etc.

    The produce markets can have a lot more of the Southeast Asian produce-- think rambutan, longan, lychee, durian, lotus root, a plethora of greens, a variety of mushrooms, etc. While game meats such as kangaroo and crocodile are available, my Aussie friends don't seem as keen on it. Lamb is big, as are snags (sausages) on the barbie with onions and tomato sauce. A Sausage Sizzle fundraiser is pretty common :) Prawns are well-loved, as is Barramundi.
    Lamingtons, pavlova, Anzac bikkies, and slices are popular desserts. Vanilla slice, caramel slice, and custard tarts all go down a treat. But, macarons and croquembouche and such have gotten a lot of press here the last couple of years as well.
    Who can forget Vegemite? Love it or hate it, really. TimTams, Kinder or Cadbury chocolates, and I find Aussies love their Lollies (often gummy candies).

    Like any country, there's not just one dish or cuisine. What I don't find, sadly, is much of the south american, mexican, or african influence. It's growing, but I really miss a good TexMex resto sometimes ;)

    1. c
      ChervilGeorge Jan 26, 2014 08:16 AM

      It's been years since I lived there but dishes that made regular rotation were: meat pies, sausage rolls, pasties, fish and chips (shark), grilled prawns and fish, lobster (but I think we called it crayfish), grilled steaks (not beef) and roasted tomatoes, lamb prepared in all sorts of ways, full English breakfast, sautéed onions with everything, lamingtons, pavlova, interestingly flavoured crisps (potato chips) - tomato was my favourite, violet crumble candy bars.

      There weren't too many vegetables happening as I recall but I lived at the ocean, far from any town of significant population. We pretty much lived on seafood.

      Lamb was certainly the dominant meat of choice but it was not unusual to see horse or kangaroo on your plate. I don't remember beef having a presence where I lived.

      1. LotusRapper Jan 25, 2014 10:47 PM



        1. pikawicca Jan 13, 2014 12:31 PM

          Lamingtons. Yum!!!

          1. KarenDW Jan 12, 2014 04:50 PM

            My observation of the most common foods available: Meat pies, with properly cut mince; curry; seafood, especially shrimp/prawns, barramundi and flathead. Also lots of s.e. Asian influenced dishes.

            1. NE_Wombat Jan 12, 2014 03:30 PM

              Tim Tams and Vegemite.

              Together or separately.

              12 Replies
              1. re: NE_Wombat
                Bkeats Jan 13, 2014 06:33 AM

                Took 15 hours for vegemite to come up. Surprising.

                1. re: Bkeats
                  LotusRapper Jan 13, 2014 10:10 AM


                  1. re: LotusRapper
                    LotusRapper Jan 13, 2014 10:12 AM

                    Those of you in WA & Pacific NW ...... :-D


                  2. re: Bkeats
                    pikawicca Jan 13, 2014 12:30 PM

                    Too right. McDonalds serves little packets of the vile stuff with English muffins at breakfast.

                    1. re: pikawicca
                      kagemusha49 Jan 13, 2014 12:43 PM

                      Vegemite isn't vile - just not as good as the original thing Marmite

                      1. re: kagemusha49
                        porker Jan 13, 2014 01:04 PM

                        Funny, you can't get vegemite in Canada so I asked my Aussie friend about Marmite (which is available here).
                        She said Marmite was OK, just not as good as Vegemite...

                        1. re: porker
                          ChervilGeorge Jan 26, 2014 07:57 AM

                          I have to agree with your friend. I keep both in the house but use Vegemite exclusively when eating on toast. I cook with it often as well. The Marmite is good for certain braised dishes when I want a more toned down version of the stuff.

                          I've forced a few friends into taste off competitions between the two and all have preferred Vegemite (if they can even stomach it) to Marmite but both are good.

                          1. re: ChervilGeorge
                            kagemusha49 Jan 26, 2014 09:24 AM

                            Try Marmite XO

                            1. re: kagemusha49
                              ChervilGeorge Jan 27, 2014 11:34 AM

                              I've been trying to find it. Doesn't seem to be anywhere in my area.

                              1. re: ChervilGeorge
                                kagemusha49 Jan 28, 2014 08:22 AM

                                You either have to buy it online or go to the UK to buy it or persuade a friend in the UK to ship it to you. Buying online is expensive but it is sooooo good.

                        2. re: kagemusha49
                          pikawicca Jan 13, 2014 01:47 PM


                    2. re: NE_Wombat
                      MamasCooking Jan 13, 2014 10:48 PM

                      My daughter brought me Tim Tams from NZ. when she visited in April. Tears of joy!

                    3. k
                      kagemusha49 Jan 12, 2014 12:12 PM

                      The carpetbag steak (nice big steak stuffed with oysters) used to be regarded as the ultimate Aussie dish

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: kagemusha49
                        Harters Jan 12, 2014 12:15 PM

                        That sounds great. I've only had beef and oysters in a pie - very Victorian Britain sort of thing

                        1. re: Harters
                          kagemusha49 Jan 12, 2014 02:04 PM

                          I'm a pie n mash man meself. Never worked up the nerve to tackle jellied eels.

                          1. re: kagemusha49
                            Harters Jan 12, 2014 02:09 PM

                            Me neither - on the eels. I've had smoked eel but that's as near as I've come (my partner used to bring it back from the Netherlands for me)

                            And I'm a northern Brit - so it's chips with my pies, not mash.

                        2. re: kagemusha49
                          caganer Jan 13, 2014 12:38 PM

                          wikipedia says that's an American thing...

                        3. linguafood Jan 12, 2014 11:58 AM

                          What, you've never been to an Outback?

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: linguafood
                            jrvedivici Jan 13, 2014 06:22 AM

                            Yummmmm bloomin onion!!!! Nothing says Australian to me more than a deep fried onion, oh and a Koala bear! Oh and Fosters....ok so a Koala bear eating a bloomin' onion drinking a Fosters, that's Australian!

                            1. re: jrvedivici
                              girloftheworld Jan 13, 2014 03:32 PM

                              and a hat with the side folded up!

                              1. re: girloftheworld
                                LotusRapper Jan 13, 2014 03:44 PM

                                And tucker in, drongo ! Pass me some of them grog, wee ya ?

                            2. re: linguafood
                              Kajikit Jan 13, 2014 11:53 AM

                              Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone should come and decapitate your fingers for typing such a thing... (j/k)

                              1. re: Kajikit
                                linguafood Jan 13, 2014 12:19 PM

                                My fingers don't have any heads. Must be an Oz thing :-P

                                1. re: linguafood
                                  Veggo Jan 13, 2014 01:43 PM

                                  A finger puppet thing.

                              2. re: linguafood
                                LotusRapper Jan 13, 2014 03:53 PM

                                I sit in mine all the time ....


                              3. Gio Jan 12, 2014 10:09 AM

                                Pavlova the meringue-based dessert.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Gio
                                  Harters Jan 12, 2014 10:19 AM

                                  That's one of those hotly contested food things - with New Zealand having the other claim to inventing it.

                                  A bit like the hotly contested claim for the first British place to serve fish & chips - was it London in 1865, or Mossley in 1860.

                                  By the by, Fosters is now a British owned company. And the brewing facility here is about 10 minutes drive from me - I pass it every time I go into the city.

                                  1. re: Gio
                                    LotusRapper Jan 12, 2014 10:21 AM

                                    Sorry, couldn't resist :-)


                                    1. re: LotusRapper
                                      Harters Jan 12, 2014 10:24 AM

                                      Excellent call, LotusR.

                                      1. re: LotusRapper
                                        Gio Jan 12, 2014 11:35 AM

                                        Hahaha... funny!

                                    2. LotusRapper Jan 12, 2014 09:47 AM

                                      Aussie Pies .... with the requisite dollop of ketchup !


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: LotusRapper
                                        drongo Jan 12, 2014 01:04 PM

                                        Plus 1 for the meat pies! (But if you know what a 'drongo' is in Australia, my vote will be of little comfort!)

                                      2. Beach Chick Jan 12, 2014 09:37 AM

                                        Toohey's, Vic Bitters on draught..no one that I know of in AUS drinks Fosters.
                                        Fresh grilled Barramundi, and some of the best Indian and Thai food on the planet.
                                        Fish n' chips are some of the best with malt vinegar..their pubs are legendary and cricket games too.
                                        Fantastic Country and they all seem to love a great time and they are gracious to the tourists!

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Beach Chick
                                          girloftheworld Jan 12, 2014 09:46 AM

                                          "no one that I know of in AUS drinks Fosters"

                                          What? I cant trust my movie education? say it isnt so!!!

                                          Why does it have such a strong Indian and Thi influence?

                                          1. re: girloftheworld
                                            Veggo Jan 12, 2014 09:54 AM

                                            American Fosters oil cans are brewed in......Fort Worth.

                                            1. re: Veggo
                                              girloftheworld Jan 12, 2014 10:06 AM

                                              Reallllly? Texas is so amazing! Dr. Pepper ,Saved the wine industry in France, invented "Chicago style pizza"...

                                            2. re: girloftheworld
                                              Kalivs Jan 13, 2014 01:51 PM

                                              Australia had a lot of immigration from India. In the 70s it was relatively easy to get a visa.

                                            3. re: Beach Chick
                                              kagemusha49 Jan 12, 2014 10:40 AM

                                              Don't forget Flake - otherwise known as shark. Great with chips

                                              1. re: Beach Chick
                                                porker Jan 12, 2014 12:09 PM

                                                Ahhhh, Toohey's Old. Lotsa people called it "old man's beer" but I thought it to be a pretty good dark ale akin to a black&tan.

                                              2. k
                                                kagemusha49 Jan 12, 2014 09:22 AM

                                                Salties? (Crocodiles). Oops, my bad Australians are Salties cuisine.

                                                1. girloftheworld Jan 12, 2014 09:06 AM

                                                  Shrimp on the barbie

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: girloftheworld
                                                    LotusRapper Jan 12, 2014 09:46 AM


                                                  2. Kajikit Jan 12, 2014 08:57 AM

                                                    vanilla slice, custard tart, lamingtons, pavlova, anzac biscuits, meat pies, ummm... lots of barbecuing (grilling, NOT American 'bbq'.) 'Traditional' Australian cooking was British all the way, but in my lifetime it's become a real global melting pot. The main cuisines that you WON'T find in Australia are Mexican and Caribbean, and there's not a lot of African influence because most of the immigrants came from Europe or more recently south-east Asia.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Kajikit
                                                      Harters Jan 12, 2014 09:12 AM

                                                      Vanilla slice & custard tart both must have British connections, as they're both popular cakes here.

                                                      1. re: Kajikit
                                                        porker Jan 12, 2014 12:06 PM

                                                        Its been a few years since my last visit, but most of the backyard grills I saw in Sydney/Brisbane/Gold Coast wouldn't even rate as a "grill". They basically cooked on a metal sheet heated by propane flame. I teased that they were cookng on the hood of a Buick...
                                                        and "shrimp on the barbie" was despised as American nonsense. They were cookng lamb sausage.

                                                        1. re: porker
                                                          LotusRapper Jan 12, 2014 12:11 PM

                                                          "I teased that they were cookng on the hood of a Holden..."

                                                          Fixed it for ya :-)

                                                          1. re: LotusRapper
                                                            Veggo Jan 12, 2014 12:23 PM

                                                            Good catch. The Australian import duties on foreign cars are goofy high.

                                                      2. h
                                                        Harters Jan 12, 2014 03:45 AM

                                                        As with any national cuisine, particularly for those countries which are relatively new, Australia relies on its immigrant communities for it dishes. For example, fish & chips and meat pies are as iconic Australian foods as they are British foods.

                                                        And, as with any national cuisine, it's affected by what products are raised locally. With much of the country's population living in the coastal areas, it's hardly surprising that seafood is very popular. And vast amounts of land are given over to raising sheep and cattle.

                                                        Modern Australian restaurant cuisine often looks to the Pacific Rim countries for inspiration, adapting dishes to local produce, etc. But, for traditional Australian food, you'd generally look towards the British Isles, although dishes will, of course, be adapted to local circumstances and tastes.

                                                        1. LotusRapper Jan 11, 2014 11:31 PM

                                                          I learned some stuff from Bourdain's segments:


                                                          1. Veggo Jan 11, 2014 07:59 PM

                                                            Morton bay bugs, barramundi, beer, girls, lamb. Any order.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                              jrvedivici Jan 11, 2014 08:01 PM

                                                              Dingo's dine on babies.

                                                              1. re: jrvedivici
                                                                Veggo Jan 11, 2014 08:06 PM

                                                                A sleezy way to duck child support. "Sandra, meet Donnie Dingo."

                                                                1. re: Veggo
                                                                  porker Jan 12, 2014 06:07 AM

                                                                  Wouldn't that be "Sheila"?

                                                                  1. re: porker
                                                                    LotusRapper Jan 12, 2014 09:09 AM

                                                                    Don't forget the shrimps on the Barbie ....


                                                              2. re: Veggo
                                                                kagemusha49 Jan 12, 2014 06:02 AM

                                                                You forgot yabbies and left out two more mentions of beer

                                                                1. re: kagemusha49
                                                                  porker Jan 12, 2014 06:07 AM

                                                                  What about 'roo and maybe draft?

                                                                  1. re: porker
                                                                    Veggo Jan 12, 2014 06:35 AM

                                                                    Recall that in New South Wales, drafts are served by the pint, and in Far North Queensland, they are served by the "pot".

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