Meet the fabulous Fred – bush tucker cook and expert forager as he showed me how to make this superb and simple dish near Seven Mile Beach in Australia https://youtu.be/40kJYIzyNw4
This was one of the most memorable days during the whole of my time cooking around the world – entirely due to Fred, his knowledge, humour and great food. His whole sense of place and history brought all those generations of the indigenous people of Australia alive for us firstname.lastname@example.org. He even had a perfect way of catching fish with leaves from the wattle tree.
But, being modern folk, we’d come equipped with a fresh snapper fish from just an ordinary supermarket while Fred had brought the rest of the ingredients and his barbecue to a local wildlife area. He too has some disability – along term back injury – but he used his bushcraft to find and make his own walking cane.
This was nearly the same as cooking en papilotte (in a paper parcel) and even his bush equivalent had a similar name. He’d gathered the paper bark from trees near the Wolagong steel works so they came impregnated with their own Smokey flavour.
The fish was wrapped in the bark with a knot that would embarrass any Boy Scout. Paper bark is very waterproof so it has many uses from thatching to being aboriginal greaseproof paper for us. The final touch was to enclose the whole parcel within two huge lily leaves. They are enormous, thick and succulent with the perfect shape to enclose a whole fish. They needed trimming with an axe – I did the chopping while he kept his fingers clear. The whole plant-made package went straight on to the barbecue for about half an hour and the end result was succulent soft fish scented with the herbs – delicious.