Salad of yabby, baby cos, nashi and caramelised macadamias

Salad of yabby, baby cos, nashi and caramelised macadamias

Nuovo Mondo
Alan Benson

Yabbies, the small freshwater crustaceans abundant in Mildura and much of Australia, are the star of this recipe. If you cannot get hold of yabbies, you can use saltwater crayfish, marron or prawns (shrimp). We make an oil with the yabby shells, which is used in the dressing; this technique can be applied to almost all crustaceans.


Quantity Ingredient
12 large raw yabbies
1kg ice
200ml Yabby oil
100ml blood orange juice
2 baby cos, washed and leaves separated
1 nashi pear, peeled, cored and cut into 5 cm long batons
12 fennel fronds

Caramelised macadamias

Quantity Ingredient
100g caster sugar
20 macadamia nuts
vegetable oil, for deep-frying


  1. Place the yabbies in the freezer for 30 minutes. This makes them docile and slows their metabolism, and humanely despatches them. Combine the ice with 1 litre of water in a large bowl to make an ice bath.
  2. Place a large saucepan of heavily salted water over high heat (see note Blanching). When cooking crustaceans, the water should taste like seawater. Remove the yabbies from the freezer. Using your finger, gently prise off the middle fin on the bottom of the tail. As you remove the fin, the intestinal tract should come with it. Repeat with all the yabbies.Drop the yabbies into the boiling water and cook for 5–6 minutes, depending on their size. Remove and immediately place in the ice bath to halt the cooking process. When cool, peel the yabbies. Reserve the shells for the yabby oil and refrigerate the meat.
  3. To make the caramelised macadamias, put the oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan and heat the oil to 170°C. Test the oil by dropping a little bread in it – if it sizzles furiously it is hot enough. Lightly grease a baking tray and set aside.
  4. Put the caster sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the macadamias and cook for 3 minutes, then remove the nuts using a slotted spoon and spread them out on the oiled tray to cool. When the sugar has solidified and the nuts are cool enough to handle, gently lower them into the hot oil, in batches, and deep-fry until golden brown. Return to the oiled tray to cool. When the nuts are cool they should be very crisp.
  5. Make a vinaigrette by whisking together the yabby oil and blood orange juice. Place the yabby tails and cos in a separate bowl and add enough of the dressing to generously coat. Season with salt. Arrange the cos and yabbies on serving plates. Garnish with the macadamias, nashi and wild fennel fronds. Spoon over any leftover dressing as desired.


  • The basic salt-to-water ratio for cooking vegetables and pasta is about 1 tablespoon salt for every 4 cups water. We tend to use a bit more salt but this is the rule of thumb in the restaurant world; the home cook probably prefers less. Salt helps retain chlorophyll in green vegetables and also seasons the ingredient. It is impossible to get the same effect from seasoning a dish after it has been prepared.
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