By Freya Ensbey.
"I was spellbound by this form of cooking. It was completely unique, so beautifully complex and yet so simple.” ~ Lennox Hastie.
There have been two necessary turning points which have elevated us as mankind to the top of the food chain, the blade we used for hunting and the ability to create and control the flame of fire. Whilst the modern-day kitchen has given us ways to cook with heat that are entirely dependable, instant and convenient, it removes the way we are intended to interact with our ingredients as we did in our primal era.
Lennox Hastie, of the acclaimed Sydney restaurant Firedoor, tells the story of how he learnt the language of fire through the thick matte stock pages of his latest cookbook, Finding Fire.
Much more than just a glowing source of heat, Hastie explains that the characteristics of the ember and flame are just as unique as the ingredients we choose to cook on it.
"When we harness fire, we understand the full story of the ingredient, the unlocking of nutrients, the smoky transformation from raw to cooked, then we need to read the ingredient and assess when it’s ready to eat,” Hastie explains.
Open this page turner to firstly learn the six stages of fire; ignition, smoke, flame, embers, ash and cinders, before moving onto the building of your fire where you will be rewarded with the satisfaction that stems from creating fire not derived from the flicking of a switch.
Once you channel your innate and most primal instinct which lays dormant in all of us, it’s time to get cooking. As we take tour of Tasmania, we thought there was no better way to celebrate the produce available in the region than cooking under the stars beside your campervan with our top picks of recipes.
With oysters in abundance in Tasmania, especially throughout the East Coast, why not whip up the Oysters, Pickled Kohlrabi, Apple and Sea Lettuce found on page 127. Cooking the oysters this way allows them to take on the smoky, subtle perfume of Applewood which is married well with the sweet and creamy brininess of the delicate flesh.
Who says camping food has to be boring or mundane? Invite your fellow campers around for a bottle of Tasmanian wine and delve into a gooey Ember Baked Cheese with rosemary.
The high price point for abalone is driven by the difficult and sometimes dangerous harvesting processes used, which has seen it celebrated as a national treasure in many cultures. Using Applewood as the wood type turned into intense embers, the Abalone with Black Bean and Beach Herbs recipe tenderises the abalone muscle, leaving a refined buttery finish, with the addition of black bean sauce adding a delightful element of umami.
Just as we feel when we create fire, there is something primal that is awakened when devouring bone marrow. Try your hand at creating the Bone Marrow, Sea Urchin and Purslane, with its creamy, almost custard like richness that comes from the very core of an animal. Marrow has a nutty creaminess that can only be matched by the intensity of any accompanying ingredients, such as caviar or, in this case, sea urchin. This recipe combines earthy sweetness with the brininess of the sea for the ultimate, surf and turf mouthful.
Making the ideal gift for that loved one who has everything, the wilderness explorer or the avid barbeque king, Finding Fire makes a unique token of not only love but knowledge for someone deserving.
This is an edited extract from Finding Fire by Lennox Hastie published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $60 and is available in stores nationally.
Photographer: ©Nikki To.