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Could karkalla become the next superfood?

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SA food business Something Wild Australia is releasing a Karkalla Kimchi and has been awarded a $200,000 grant to further research, harvest and develop the native green also known as pig face.

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Something Wild general manager Daniel Motlop says the grant, announced today by Employment and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher, will help the business focus on “what we believe will be the next superfood”.

“Karkalla, a plant Indigenous people have used for thousands and thousands of years, has become one of our most popular products, especially on the eastern seaboard,” he says.

Also known as beach banana in some places, karkalla (Carpobrotus rossii) is a coastal plant with a salty, slightly spicy flavour.

Motlop told InDaily that the Indigenous-owned Something Wild Australia currently picks about 200kg a week along the Coorong, where it also harvests other native greens such as native rosemary, samphire and sea blight.

It supplies the karkalla to around 100 restaurants around Australia, as well as selling it direct to the public through its Adelaide Central Market shop.

“We’re lucky to have a product growing naturally on our land and be able to harvest it and create jobs with it,” Motlop says.

“It’s really taken off and we think we can do a lot more with it … we’d like to see more people using it.”

Native greens including karkalla, iceplant and sea blight. Photo: Something Wild Australia

He says the grant will be used for research into ways of extending the shelf life of the karkalla and exploring different uses for the ingredient, as well as product development – all of which he says will help create more Indigenous employment.

“We’ve already come up with a product called native Karkalla Kimchi, and that’s exciting for us. We’ll be selling it within the week.”

One of the challenges was keeping it green (it tends to turn brown) in the pickles.

“Part of that was trial and error. We found another native ingredient that enhances the colour of it in the pickles.”

Something Wild’s Something Wild Beverages division released a green ant gin earlier this year, and Motlop is keen to look at incorporating karkalla into an alcoholic beverage.

“We think we have a great product … so we’re pushing the boundaries of it.”

Home cooks mainly use karkalla in stir-fries or fresh in salads, while restaurants also pickle it and incorporate it in dishes as a garnish or seasoning on meats such as steak.

“Because it’s so salty it can be used like a seasoning,” Motlop says.

“You can have it fresh or you can chargrill it. When you chargrill it, it doesn’t burn; you can actually crush it up and make a bit of a seasoning with it because all the moisture goes out of it and it turns into a salty garnish.

“I’m not a chef but these are the sorts of things I’ve done with it.”

Something Wild Australia was established by Richard and Elizabeth Gunner, of Richard Gunner’s Fine Meats, who sold the majority share to the Motlop family in 2016.

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