This combination is made in heaven, but is also very grounded. For my international readers, yabbies are the native, common freshwater crayfish of Australia. Their meat is dreamily sweet. As a child, we would go hunting them with green nets that resembled the Sydney Opera House, a contraption designed to prevent the little crustaceans finding their way out again. I guess children still go yabbying. I hope they do. I no longer have a dam in which to go yabbying nor holidays to places where I may do so. Imagine my excitement then, when I discovered Glendino’s oranges have them growing in their irrigation channels and are licenced to sell the at the Capital Region Farmers Market. On request, they bought me a kilo this morning; healthy, lively little critters hiding among some willow branches. Yabbies live in streams and damns all over the country. It is their Australianness that inspired me to prepare this simple salad with a dressing of native ingredients.
There is a great kitchen shop at Old Parliament House called The Kitchen Cabinet. They run great workshops and cooking classes and it’s a great place for getting regional produce of all descriptions. I was glad I was in luck when I checked their freezer for a bag of frozen native finger limes from Sandy Creek. I don’t think they’re quite in season yet, but they freeze so well that it really doesn’t matter. The beautiful purple colour of this dressing comes from ground pepperberries, and the oil that binds it all together is of course Macadamia oil. I used water cress for my green and it worked a treat.
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter
Put the yabbies to sleep by placing them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pound the pepperberries in a mortar and pestle with the salt. Cut the finger limes in half lengthways, remove the seeds, and scoop the flesh into the mortar and pestle with the macadamia oil. Pound to combine.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the yabbies, cooking till they change colour. Remove yabbies from the pot and allow to cool a little. If you like to serve them whole, feel free to do so, or save one particularly fine specimen to cut in half and serve atop the salad. Otherwise, break off the tails and claws. Cut the tails in half and remove from the shell. If you like, mix a little of the bright orange yabby mustard through the dressing. Arrange the claws in a star shape on your serving plates. Toss the tail meat with the watercress leaves and dressing. Arrange atop the claws and serve with half a yabby if desired.