Australian BarbecueDateline: 08/09/97
Australia is the worlds largest producer of Abalone, squid, octopus, cuttlefish and lobster tails. Yet do to heavy British influence, Australians don't take advantage of their local products. Despite it's tropical location, Australians still rely on heavy British dishes to fill their plates. Very unfortunate. Though this trend is changing, impart to a great deal of criticism and work on the part of the gastronomically sophisticated, Australians still eat an inordinate number of meat pies with tomato sauce. Over the past decade or so Australians, in what you might call an Australian Pride movement have begun a deeper exploration of their own food resources and traditions. Now you can find cookbooks filled with such recipes as Grilled Emu Fillet with Riberry Sauce or Stir-Fried Kangaroo Strips with Bok Choy.
I fully encourage any people or peoples to run, not walk, from the nearest McDonalds. Americanized fast-food will be the end of us all. Maybe I get this opinion from being a diehard smoker, but I think if it cooks in under 4 hours, it can't be all that good. Okay, enough ranting and on to the point. Australia is a proud follower of the traditions of the Barbecue. With a large ranching industry and a virtually unlimited supply of seafood, there's plenty to cook up in Australia.
The thing to remember about Australian cooking is that it is a mixture between indigenous ingredients and traditional European recipes. Being of primarily British decent the Australian's have adapted much of their traditional recipes from traditional English food. Hence the popularity of the Meat Pie. But this isn't what interests us. Grilling and barbecue are as much a staple of diet as in the U.S., but whereas Americans might depend more on burgers, the Australians love to cook up seafood, especially in the areas of Sydney and Melbourne.
Australians love to take their grills with them. Someone once suggested that the history of eating in Australia has been one continuous picnic. If you head on down to the beach you'll find dozens of portable grills smoking away with an endless variety of seafood, and yes, burgers. Australians jokingly pride themselves as living in the land of real men, and real men (and women) barbecue. Granted, it's difficult to get kangaroo (wallaroo) or emu outside Australia, but if you get the chance try grilling up one of these for a change.
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Grilling shrimp can be difficult if you let it be. Start with a good marinade with a citrus base. Place shrimp on a hot grill, preferably on skewers for easy handling. Watch closely. If the shrimp cook too long they will become tough and flavorless. When the shrimp start to turn pink on the sides, turn and cook until there is no more gray. Remove immediately and eat. Don't let shrimp sit around. If you are like me, you won't.