I’ve decided to revisit the good old kangaroo. I used it previously in a Japanese recipe, so this time around I thought I’d make it a little more Aussie. When I was down visiting Kangaroo Island I not only learned about a beautiful part of the country, but a particular native plant, or herb, was brought to my attention. Olearia axillaris. A shrub that’s commonly known as Coastal Daisybush or Wild Rosemary.
You see, way before the Brits dugg the Union Jack into Botany Bay’s terra firma, the rescue crew of Willem de Vlamingh’s expedition was already sampling some of the native herbage to enhance the flavours in some of their provisions. These Dutch fellows were out here to rescue potential survivors of the Ridderschap van Holland that went missing two years prior in 1694. They may not have realised it then, but when they were anchored at Rottnest Island, they happened to be the first Europeans to use wild rosemary in cooking.
Wild rosemary grows pretty much from the mid-Western Australian coast, all the way to Sydney. Much of the Tasmanian coastline is home to it as well. It’s a shrub that likes the sandy coastline and salty air. It grows up to two metres in height and looks and smells very much like your regular rosemary, but with notes of pine as well.
I thought the herb would work nicely with red meat, so I’ve used it with kangaroo. Due to its strong flavour, I mixed in some parsley. To add some sweetness to the dish, something kangaroo meat likes, I made a quick chutney with fresh lilly pillies from my neighbourhood trees and some figs. A bit of roasted and caramelised garlic helped it along as well. I say a bit, not the huge amount you can see in the photo’s!