Before moving to Australia, I had only ever eaten a big can of Fosters beer and a bunch of bloomin’ onions. It’s like saying “I don’t need to research Mexican cuisine before visiting the country — there are Taco Bells nearby.” Given that Australia was originally a British prison colony, I assumed there would also be British influences. Surprisingly, when I arrived in Adelaide (South Australia), I discovered that the food was also influenced by a variety of immigrant cuisines. These include European and Asian cuisines as well as bush tucker (native Australian dishes).
1. Meat Pies
These pastries, which were meat-stuffed and portable, were definitely leftovers from the British. However, the flaky texture made them very popular.
Savory pies have had a long and successful life down under. They are often served with tomato sauce, which is basically Australian ketchup, whether they are mass-produced and placed on the warming shelves of sporting events or sold at fine dining restaurants. The most popular flavor is beef. Next is meat. However, Australian pie companies are not required to disclose the type of meat in their pies. You’ll also find Thai red curry lamb, Moroccan lentil, and chicken curry. Exotic pies are possible in the Outback, made from local animals such as kangaroo, emu, and camel.
2. Pie Floater
The pie floater was a post-pub food that I was first introduced to. It’s simple, it makes sense. The pie floater is essentially a meat pie that sits in a bowl with green pea soup and a drizzle of tomato sauce. This is a combination of two British food favorites. After a night on the town, this combination of sweet, creamy soup, salty, flaky dough, and greasy, meaty filling taste like it deserves a Michelin star. It can be found at pie carts in Sydney and Adelaide, both day and night.
3. Snag the Dag
Aussies love to cook outdoors because of all the good weather. You might find an authentic Australian barbecue, the sausage sizzle. The sausage sizzle is a combination of grilled sausages and white bread. It usually includes tomato sauce, beer, and fried onions. There may be different types of sausages and condiments (pork sausage is a popular choice), as well as other mains such as prawns and lamb. The Aussies have a nickname that refers to everything. It’s called a “snag on dag” (snag=sausage, daga=diagonal, what it’s on the bread). You can find them at sporting events and on college campuses.
Like their British ancestors chips, Australian chips are basically fries. You can find chips everywhere from fish and chip shops and pubs to restaurants and bars. They come in three flavors: salt and vinegar, salt and chicken salt, or with Thai sweet chili sauce and sour cream. Chicken salt is just what it sounds like. It is chicken-flavored salt, which is a birthright of all Australians. It gives chips that mysterious umami flavor that is supposed to be impossible, but it works. These chips are served with Thai sweet chili sauce and sour cream. This is a nod to Australia’s Asian immigrants.
This spicy soup is just as popular in Australia as tacos and pizzas in the U.S. Peranakan is a mix of Chinese and Malay food found in Singapore. Laksa is served with rice noodles and a protein such as chicken, seafood, or tofu. It also comes garnished with laksa (a Vietnamese mint) and sambal (a chili paste). There are three types of laksa in Australia: curry laksa, assam lapsa, and a sour-tamarind soup with fish.
6. Salt and Pepper Squid
Another staple dish in Australia is this Cantonese dish. Thin slices are made from squid and dipped into a flour.
Pan fried until golden brown and then tossed in spices such as black pepper or white pepper, salt, and Chinese five spice. This dish can be found in many Asian restaurants, including traditional and modern Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants in Australia. It is also available in pubs. This dish’s ability to be both salty and crunchy is addictive.
Australia is well-known for its lamingtons, just as America is famous for apple pie. This white sponge cake is dipped in chocolate, and then rolled in desiccated cocoa. These white sponge cakes are available in all kinds of places, including coffee shops and bakeries as well as grocery stores and grocery stores. Sometimes, the white sponge cake sandwich is filled with jam or whipped cream. Other times, it’s replaced by chocolate sponge. Sometimes a lamington goes all out, such as at Cocolat Dessert Cafe, South Australia or New South Wales. A moist chocolate cake is filled in champagne mousse and dipped into dark chocolate before being rolled in huge flakes of fresh, lightly-toasted coconut.
Australia and New Zealand have been fighting over the invention of pavlova for many years. You are free to bring up the topic in any Australian pub. A pavlova, a meringue-based dessert is made. The Australians are known for their wattleseed pavlova. There are two types of this dessert: one that is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, with fresh fruit on top, and the other that is fluffy and lightly baked, with a meringue filling with whipped cream. Wattleseed, a native Australian ingredient, is used in bush food. However, it has been making its way into Australian classics like pavlova for many years. This dessert tastes like coffee, with a hint chocolate and hazelnut. It can be baked directly into a loaf of bread or in whipped cream to top or fill a roll.
9. Alcoholic Ginger Beer
Another throwback to their British days is alcoholic ginger beer. This beer is a great part of Australian pub culture, especially for those who are looking for an alternative for beer, wine, and cider.
It’s flavor is unmistakable from its non-alcoholic counterparts, which is a big part of it’s appeal. This soda will get you high. You should check out these brands in Australia: Stone’s, Matso’s, and Brookvale Union.