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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 15. 1969.

Food — Practical Protein with Parsimony


Practical Protein with Parsimony

cartoon by Brockie

A Cynic told me that burnt steak and congealed eggs, (on a finger-printed plate); is the national dish of Australia. By throwing-in a fly-spot ted menu, etched with stains of Worcestershire sauce, sounds of drunken thundering, and a juke-box—you would have the setting for the city bachelor's most familiar downtown meal.

In piecarts, 'chew'n'spews, and provincial 'greasy spoons' we eat some fish with rubbery eggs, but steak and chops are probably our most-ordered protein dish. For economical protein meals, legumes and beans are a neglected province of our cookery. True— a scarlet pustular ooze, universally known as "baked beans", is forever slapped onto toast from cans in snack-shops, and hotels, fur ones' teeth with fibrous green things in Victorian dining rooms; but the vegetarians seem to keep the rest.

Students should go after those packets of dried beans, etc., in the vegetarian shops. They store well, and naturally lend themselves to a variety of dishes that can be reheated for successive meals. Lentils are high in protein-value and everyone recognises the red ones in soup mixes—but don't miss that splendid "green lentil" or "Greek lentil".

Once tried you're sure to delight in its flavour—and beautiful soups can be made with little else than green lentils, onion or garlic, herbs, and a little butter. Launch-out blending this stock with other black or dark things such as—black pudding, smoked eel, salamis, bacon, ham, pumpkin or celery. Include lentils in curries and stews, combine its thick stock with fried or poached fish; or sieve it, and place it alongside any traditional roasts or casseroles.

Fishermen swear the only way to cook paua—is baking it in the shell by an open fire near the sea. This shellfish is difficult to present. Its flavour hovers between the polarities of oyster and asparagus—and the texture causes problems.

To avoid these and break-away from all that pounding, butchering, and frying, I thought about that famous American shellfish stew—clam chowder. I took paua, combined it with something equally dark (and not overwhelming in flavour); green lentils in this ease—and paua lentil chowder was bom. The last sentence is not a farrago of self congratulation—I want to drill you to follow how these recipes evolve from contemplation and commonsense reasoning.

Paua Lentil Chowder

Pauas, greek lentils, salt, black peppercorns, garlic and/or onions, a thickener—such as cornflower, oatmeal or breadcrumbs, cracker biscuits, suitable herbs.

Lentils are soaked, boiled, set aside. Minced pauas are simmered in salted water with onions and pepper until cooked. Add lentils, simmer again using thickener to suit yourself, stir the herbs in last.

Serve—garnished with crumbed cracker biscuits. The following herbs blend well:—Sweet basil and fennel, or chopped mint and parsley, or grated lemon peel with thyme.

If you have a sweet tooth, and are tired of stodgy puddings, try this original national dish—based on tree tomatos or tamarillos.

Tamarillo Rice Pudding or Paella Tamarillo

Remove the pulp from tamarillos and chop it in a basin with a knife and fork. Set aside. Rice is fried in oil with a few raisins and a pinch of grated lemon peel thrown-in last. When piping hot—remove from heat. Quickly stir in the tamarillo pulp.

Serve immediately with a dollop of ice cream—and be proud of it—as a unique Antipodean delicacy. To make it an iron-clad Kiwi patent (and cunningly thwart plagiarism by jealous European chefs), you could decorate the carmine hillock with shavings of verdant Chinese gooseberry.


by Turns, P. 12