Succulent in Sydney
July 1, 1999
Web posted at: 5:10 p.m. EDT (2110 GMT)
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- To learn the basics of eating Australian style, the first thing to know is that food is called "tucker." And that shrimp you think you see on the barbie, well, here -- it's called a prawn.
With 90 percent of the population living on the coast, prawns and other seafood are a major staple. The preferred method cooking fish is to keep it simple.
"With the fish, we basically just like to grill it and serve it natural with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil," says Stephen Davies, executive chef at Nick's restaurant in Sydney's Darling Harbor. "We don't try and do anything too fancy with it."
Ask the locals in this island nation where to find authentic Australian grub, and you'll get a resounding, "Go fish." Being without a boat and/or fishing gear, the next best thing to do may be to go to the Sydney Fish Market. That's where the largest seafood auction in the southern hemisphere begins at 5:30 a.m. daily. A popular catch is the barramundi.
"The barramundi is a very Australian fish," Davies says. "It's a fish which is caught either in the wild or on a farm. It's quite a tasty fish -- its white flesh quite soft. Got a very distinctive flavor to it."
Kangaroo, curry and casseroles
If you're not hopping for fish, there's always the kangaroo. Yes, the national marsupial is on the menu at Hugo's, a restaurant known for it's modern Australian cuisine.
David Evans, who owns Hugo's, describes "modern Australian" as food from a mix of cultures, cooked in a way that suits the local palate.
Thai cuisine also influences Australian cooking.
"The lucky thing about Australia is that you're in Asia, so you can get your products directly from Thailand if necessary," says Elton Cooper, a chef at Darley Street Thai. "It comes down to using a lot more fresh ingredients compared to Indian food, spice-wise."
If you're not up for curry and in a bit of a hurry, there's Harry's Cafe de Wheels, a Sydney institution since 1938.
"Pies are very much part of our culture," says owner Mike Hannah. "So if you have a casserole, and then you scoop the casserole into a pastry cup, and then put a pastry lid on -- voila."
CNN Entertainment News Correspondent Lauren Sydney contributed to this report.