First made by Cyril Percy Callister in 1923 utilizing spent brewers’ yeast, Vegemite has steadily unfold its manner into the Australian psyche. It is our nationwide salt lick, the human equal of the lickable blocks of salts and hint components that animals want when poor.
I doubt I would like Vegemite, except extraordinarily hungover, however I actually prefer it on toast, scorching buttered crumpets and as squiggly black worms oozing out of pressed Salada cracker sandwiches. I’ve additionally been whisking a teaspoon of Vegemite into my gravies, stews and casseroles for years, with the intention to give them that barely mysterious, savoury hit of umami.
So it amuses me that a few of our most artistic cooks are getting busy with Vegemite (now fortunately Australian-owned as soon as once more), as if it is some uncommon new indigenous ingredient that has foraged itself into their laps.
On the theatrical d’Arenberg Dice in South Australia’s McLaren Vale, cooks Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Dürr high ash-coated barramundi with Vegemite mayonnaise in a reference to campfire coal. At Anchovy in Melbourne, chef Thi Le tempura batters and deep-fries a dice of Vegemite-infused cheese custard and tops it with whipped Laughing Cow cheese as a nod to the cheese and Vegemite sandwiches of her faculty lunchboxes. You’ll be able to snack on Simon Tarlington’s puff pastry Vegemite scroll at Prahran’s Highline, or on Cory Campbell’s Vegemite ricotta with padron peppers at Sydney’s Smoke bar at Barangaroo.
Even British cooks are getting in on the act. Jack Stein (son of Rick) chucks Vegemite into his Singapore chilli crab, together with tomato ketchup and darkish soy sauce. Culinary sorcerer Heston Blumenthal has devised a candy homage of Vegemite ice-cream, served on a sourdough crumble biscuit base with toasted puffed spelt, cocoa nibs, burnt honey and macadamia nuts. I’ve even seen the divine Nigella use Vegemite to spice up the umami in a easy pasta sauce made with “the juices of the Sunday roast”. No disrespect, however she has clearly heard about my gravy.
The prize for Greatest Use of Vegemite, nevertheless, goes to Khanh Nguyen of Melbourne’s Sunda Eating, who serves up crisp-edged Malaysian roti bread with a pool of creamy Vegemite “curry” and a gleaming curry oil. The thought of an Australian-Vietnamese chef treating Vegemite as he does kangaroo or saltbush – one thing that is ours, and that is price celebrating and elevating – sounds to me like the right celebration of Australia Day.
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