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- Colonial Cooking -

A Kitchen in the Bush






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- Memories of Matiatia -

the early 1900's as remembered by Don Croll

"Outside was a cookhouse which had an open fire with a bushman-type chimney about 10ft wide. My mother had several camp ovens on this fire in which she could cook bread, all sorts of stews, and roasts. In Summer she did most of her cooking out there as the cookhouse had no sides, only a roof and was cooler. Often we had our meals out there."

"Fish was in abundance in those days and it was nothing for my father to go for a couple of hours fishing, bringing home between 50-60 snapper as well as kingfish. We would have mullet and green-boned butter fish too - the latter being a real delicacy. Some we ate fresh, others were smoked. To smoke the fish we would first gut them, then clean using a small stiff brush, but not scale. Heads were cut from the snapper but not the mullet. Snapper were split leaving the back bone; mullet were opened from the back, the heads being split as well."

"The fish were then dried and salted using coarse salt, left for 2 hrs, well rinsed in fresh water to remove any blood and then hung in the smoke house to drip dry all night. The following morning, a fire was built of tea-tree or dry pohutukawa - never boxwood or kauri or other such wood producing a black smoke that would taint the fish. The fish were then cooked until such time as one could insert a finger easily between skin and flesh and then the fire was covered either with tea-tree sawdust or green pohutukawa leaves and the fish smoked till a nice golden brown. After, the fish would be painted with eggwhite to give it a nice sheen and left to dry."

- Excerpt from 'Waiheke Pioneers'Waiheke Pioneers by Dixie Day -