The Marron Event
After Scott and Adam returned from their produce tour of Queensland as part of the Appetite for Excellence awards program, we were inspired to head down south and meet some of our own suppliers. Why? So that we could get a first-hand look at where some of our favourite ingredients come from, chat with the people who nurture them, and witness how these special items make it from the farm to the table.
One of our most popular seafood dishes at the Red Cabbage is our Tempura WA Marron. The crustacean’s sweet, soft flesh makes it perfect for tempura frying, and its succulent texture and delicate flavour make it a perpetual best-seller on our menu. And we don’t let even a scrap of these precious shellfish go to waste. After pulling the flesh out of the beautiful red shells for our tempura dish, we use the cooked shells to make a marron bisque that’s truly sensational.
So we were excited to drive down and take a tour of the Blue Ridge Marron farm and processing plant run by Peter McGinty at his farm down in Manjimup. The state-of-the-art facility houses various different sizes of marron (from 100g to marron as large as up to a kilo) in a series of man-made freshwater ponds. We were so impressed by the facility’s high-tech automated filtration system and temperature controlled environment. This technology offers the optimum conditions for holding the marron, which means we always receive incredibly fresh product of the highest possible quality.
The freshwater crayfish is a creature that’s unique to WA, and this beauty in demand, having made its way onto menus at high-end restaurants around the world. The Blue Ridge facility that provides us with our live marron also exports these sought-after shellfish to some of the finest restaurants across the globe, including a prestigious eatery at the world’s only seven star hotel, Dubai’s Burj Al Arab.
Poking our heads around the different sized freshwater ponds that house various marron weight classes (we prefer to use marron of around 200 grams), we couldn’t help but notice that about one in every twenty was an amazing luminous blue shade. Sadly, the standout individuals with the vivid blue shells still end up with the same bright red shells as the others when cooked – but it certainly was a sight to see (and it’s something that some of the international buyers pay extra for!).
Freshwater marron has a sweeter flesh than its saltwater dwelling cousins, so it would pair beautifully with wines such as the 2010 Zaraphath Riesling from the Porongarups here in WA.
Don’t have time to try our tempura frying technique? A simpler way to cook these beauties is to just split them open across the shell butterfly-style, grill them for around three minutes on the barbecue, then drizzle them with chilli and garlic infused extra virgin olive oil.