I have been so behind with all the cookbook challenges. When I looked at this week’s theme – Insects, I was completed stumped. Where will I get insects? I don’t really like seeing them, let alone handling them. And how about eating them? I have eaten chocolate covered grasshoppers in Bangkok and deep fried crunchy scorpions in Beijing. But I don’t think I am game yet to have cockroaches, spiders and any type of worms. Just not yet.
Initially, I was thinking I could make butterfly cupcakes. But that involved sugar art. I don’t think anyone would recognise a butterfly after I am done with it. And then I considered sourcing ants. Caramlised it with sugar and sprinkle on top of ice cream. But where do I get edible and safe live ants.
Twittverse has been my constant and reliable source of information lately. I had all sort of suggestions from tweeps and finally, there was a ‘light-bulb’ answer from @cloudcontrol & @wasabi_inferno. Why don’t you use Moreton Bay bugs? Brilliant! I was thinking too laterally.
I do love my seafood and thought about picking something from Rick Stein. I was not exactly inspired by any of those recipes. I wanted to do something closer to home. I thought what are the chances that I would find something in Tastes of the Outback cookbook. I turned the page and found the recipe. It used yabbie but I am pretty sure it will work with the Moreton Bay bug.
In this recipe, I had to source rosella flowers. They belong to the wild hibiscus family and is native to the Queensland outback. I bought them online from the good people of The Melbourne Food Ingredient Depot. I will like to give them a big thanks for delivering the flowers and another special ingredient in time for the weekend And I later found out from Charcoal Lane that you can also get these from the Fresh Ingredients at Queen Victoria Markets.
- 3 Moreton bay bugs
- 20g of julienned carrots
- 20g of wilted baby spinach
- 4g of dried rosella flowers
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 10g of butter
- 50ml of white wine vinegar
- 50ml of water
- 50g of castor sugar
- 50g of brown sugar
White bean puree
- 240g of canned cannelli beans (use fresh if you can and remember to soak it overnight)
- 25g of unsalted melted butter
- 2 capsicums (1 orange, 1 yellow)
- 100ml olive oil
- To prep the white bean puree. I used canned instead of fresh. So all I did was to drain it and rinse it well. Then sieve it through a fine sieve or mouli. Fold in the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper
- To prep the capsicum coulis. Place the oiled capsicums into the oven at 180C for 20mins till it is charred. Skin and deseed capsicums. Blend both capsicums and olive oil well. Taste and season
- Place the butter and a touch of olive oil in the pan. Add onion and dried rosella flowers and saute till onion is translucent. Add the sugars, cook it till it is dissolved. Then add vinegar and water. Reduce to low heat until rosella flowers are tender and the liquid forms a floss on the back of your spoon
- Pre-heat oven to 200C. Place the bugs and cook it for about 7mins. Remove from the oven. Excess murky water will appear. Wash this off first. Place the bugs into boiling water. Cook for about 2 mins. Remove and cool.
- Plate by placing the capsicum coulis on the plate with a scoop of white bean puree. Squeeze the water out from the spinach. Pat it and place it on top. And then followed by the julienne carrots. Place Moreton Bay bug on top. And finish off with rosella chutney
Working on this dish really thought me to think about timing. The rosella chutney is too thick and was left out for awhile so it turned quite hard. Will re-heating ‘liquidify’ it a little? And also I guess it should be timed well. Will have to work on this. Another thing to note, I did tweak the amount of ingredients slightly. The original recipe was for 6 and this is more suited to serve 4.
This is such a beautiful dish. The rosella chutney gave the dish its slight acidity. The coulis and the spinach provided the freshness to the dish. It all came together very nicely.