I first visited Ningaloo in June of this year during the final throws of the Best Jobs In The World campaign, where myself and two other Taste Master finalists had the privilege of swimming with the world’s biggest fish, the whale shark (UNBELIEVABLE experience).
Since starting my new job I’ve really been looking forward to returning, but as I crested the North West Cape and drove south into the Cape Range National Park I actually gasped out loud.
Maybe it was because last time I was here I had one eye on my competitors, but as I caught a glimpse of the ocean, I honestly didn’t remember the water being so turquoise and so……BRIGHT.
I’m staying at Sal Salis, a luxury eco-safari camp about an hour drive from Learmonth Airport and before I get there I’ve been set a top secret mission. Special Order Number 68 is awaiting me at Exmouth Fish Mongers and I have to collect en-route before cooking for my fellow guests that evening. Kind of like the television show ‘Come Dine With Me’ set on the shores of one of the world’s greatest fringing reefs.
At Sal Salis, their prime motivation is to open the minds of their guests to the environment of the Ningaloo Marine Park and the Cape Range National Park. All power at the camp is generated by the sun and everyone has a maximum 20 litres of water a day, generating a minimal environmental impact.
That evening I met with Head Chef Shakira to open the mystery package and discuss what we were going to force the other guests to eat that night…..
Oh the irony Taste Master fans! In my initial 30 second video application for the job I clearly say “..and I know Australia’s not just shrimps on the barbie” in reference to the all the fresh produce, great wines, meat and fish that’s abundant in Western Australia.
Now here I am on my first cooking assignment and Special Order Number 68 is a box full of MASSIVE Exmouth Tiger Prawns that I’m going to cook on the BBQ!
EXMOUTH TIGER PRAWNS WITH A PEACH SALSA
For the marinade
- A glug of sunflower oil
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 long green chili, roughly chopped
- Thumb size piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 Lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
- A glug of light soy
- 1kg Exmouth Tiger Prawns
For the salsa
- 2 peaches, flesh finely chopped
- 1 avocado, finely chopped
- 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 long red chili, deseeded, finely chopped
- 1 tbs each fish sauce and lime juice
- 1 large beef tomato, diced
- 1 thinly sliced spring onion
- 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste
- A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- A glug of extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the prawns (shell, leaving the tails and heads attached and remove the intestinal track). Place oil, lime juice, chili, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and soy in a food processor and whizz into a smooth paste. Pour into a bowl, add prawns and gently turn. Cover and marinate in the fridge for few hours.
For the salsa combine all the ingredients in a bowl and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
Get the barbie going, whack on the prawns for a couple of minutes each side, serve and enjoy.
Tips and Tricks
Getting to Ningaloo Reef
- Qantas and Virgin Australia operate daily flights Learmonth (Exmouth)
- Coral Bay is a 1.5hrs drive south of Exmouth, on the Ningaloo Reef, it is a popular self-drive destination with Budget car rental
Where I stayed
Events to keep an eye out for
My Expert Local Guide
- Check in at Exmouth Visitors Centre for what’s happening and what to do in the region
My Insider Tips
- Visit between March – June to swim with the world’s fish, the whale shark
- For a different take on Ningaloo Reef take a Quad Bike Sunset Snorkel tour at Coral Bay