Australia has many edible coastal plants which impart dishes with texture and salty deliciousness. Most are succulents with leaves that are crunchy and don’t take much cooking beyond a quick blanch. I have used saltbush and samphire because that’s what we found on the shores of Moulting Lagoon. Check with your local indigenous community for a bit local knowledge.
- 1 kg fresh baby clams, purged
- 1 cup mixed samphire and salt bush sprigs (see Notes), washed
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 cm x 2 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely shredded
- 1 large fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp chilli paste in soya bean oil (I like the Pantai brand)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Give the clams a good scrub under cold running water to make sure there is no loose grit.
Cook the saltbush and samphire in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and refresh in a bowl of iced water. Drain and set aside.
Heat a wok or frying pan with a fitted lid over high heat until smoking. Add the vegetable oil, sesame oil, ginger, fresh chilli and garlic and fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the clams and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, then cover and cook for another 1-2 minutes or just until the clams begin to open. Add the spring onion, samphire, saltbush and chilli paste and toss until well combined. Serve immediately.
• Samphire grows prolifically in English tidal zones and along the southern coastline of Australia. Sometimes known as sea asparagus it is a fleshy and smooth herb with a woody base, many branches and bright green, juicy leaves. It has a powerful scent and is traditionally used as a pickle. In some parts of the world this plant can retail for almost as much as a precious metal, yet it grows wild and in abundance in many parts of Australia. Samphire is available from specialty greengrocers.
• Saltbush is an Australian native shrub. The fresh grey-blue leaves are naturally salty, yet delicate and slightly creamy at the same time. They’re also very versatile. Use the saltbush's branches to flavour braises, and the leaves to wrap food or flavour stir-fries. Saltbush is available from specialty greengrocers.
This recipe is from Gourmet Farmer Afloat.