Indigenous Molluscs, Ham Hock Broth, Grass Tree


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves /


Appears in


By Peter Gilmore

Published 2014

  • About

Josh Whitehead cut a grass tree in half and explained how this is a food source for the Wardandi people: grass trees are particularly plentiful in the Margaret River region. I had no idea that this rough, hard and blackened grass tree was in any way edible. Once the grass tree is cut open, the inside where the new fronds are developing is actually tender and edible. I found it similar to the heart of the palm tree. Unfortunately, this ingredient won’t be on my menu at Quay as grass trees take up to 50 years to mature and it is illegal to harvest them from the bush unless you are an Indigenous Australian. The only alternative for me would be to buy them from a nursery: at more than $100 per tree, it is not a practical ingredient, but it does demonstrate the diverse possibilities of the Australian bush.

To Finish

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) strawberry clams
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pipis
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) periwinkles
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) tulip shell molluscs

Steam the strawberry clams and the pipis separately until the shells just open. Cool and remove the meat. Use a sharp knife to remove the gut sacs from both the pipis and clams. Set aside in the refrigerator until required. Steam the periwinkles and tulip shell molluscs for 30 minutes at full steam. Cool and remove the meat from the shell with a wooden skewer. Clean and remove the gut sacs, leaving only the flesh of each. Cut each mollusc in half lengthways. Refrigerate until required.

To Plate

  • 50 g ( oz) unsalted butter
  • sea salt

Heat 500 ml (17 fl oz) of the thickened ham hock broth in a large wok or wide-rimmed saucepan. Add all of the cleaned and reserved molluscs and the unsalted butter. Stir well for approximately 1 minute until the molluscs are just heated through. Check the seasoning of the broth and adjust with sea salt if necessary. Drain the grass tree fronds and add them to the broth. Continue to cook for a further 30 seconds. Divide the molluscs, broth and grass tree fronds between eight warm serving bowls to serve.

In this section