Star kai: Matariki recipes

Kasey and Karena Bird spend their days in Maketu developing recipes, creating events and...
Kasey and Karena Bird spend their days in Maketu developing recipes, creating events and promoting New Zealand kai on the world stage. Photos: supplied
Maori chefs Karena and Kasey Bird visited Dunedin last week to cook up a storm in preparation for Matariki.  Rebecca Fox spoke to the sisters before their day in the kitchen.

The reclamation of Maori traditions around Matariki is exciting for chefs Karena and Kasey Bird.

Known for their 2014 win on Masterchef, their two cookbooks and television show Karena and Kasey’s Kitchen Diplomacy, the pair, who still live in their hometown of Maketu, spend their days developing recipes, creating events and promoting New Zealand kai on the world stage.

Earlier this year they did a Matariki degustation menu at the World Expo in Doha with each course themed on the nine stars of the cluster. This week they will be part of two Matariki celebrations in Wellington.

One is for a Government celebration where they are in charge of the starter. It will feature Bluff oysters, crayfish and raw fish. The other, with a 450-strong guest list, will feature duck, native vegetables and a kumara brulee for dessert.

"It’s a bit of a fusion of ingredients from New Zealand and our experiences travelling," Kasey says.

For the pair, learning about Matariki over the past few years was enriching. While they knew through their grandfather’s diaries he fished and planted his garden by the moon cycle, it was not something taught or learnt in school when they were growing up.

"There was this loss of knowledge but now through research we have done it is a big part of our lives, it seems natural or intrinsic."

The Matariki holiday is all about remembering the past, those lost during the past year and reflecting on the year that has been, plus considering the present.

"It’s also about planning for the future."

Karena, who had her first baby seven months ago, says food is a really big part of the holiday, especially gathering families and friends together around a table to enjoy it.

A big part of that is choosing foods that are in season and grown locally and supplemented by foods preserved from summer.

No matter what budget people have, the idea of gathering together is the key.

"Create your own traditions," they say.

The pair enjoyed a short stay in Dunedin last week to develop Matariki recipes for Silver Fern Farms, enjoying the chance to cook with SFF’s meat in New Zealand, rather than just overseas.

"We use a lot of their product overseas - we used it in Doha so it’s good to cook it for New Zealanders as well."

They created three dishes, using lamb, venison and beef, using flavours they grew up with which are more easily accessible.

"Puha, watercress, horopito. We’ve introduced flavours that are delicious and simple, to let the proteins speak for themselves," Karena says.

The sisters are also writing another book and looking forward to travelling again with a trip to Europe later this year - their first with a baby accompanying them - for a job in Spain.

Beef eye fillet with crayfish gratine, kumara and puha

Serves 2


1 pack Silver Fern Farms beef eye fillet steaks

Crayfish gratine

100g crayfish meat, cooked and roughly chopped

½ tsp garlic, minced

¼ small onion, finely diced

1 Tbsp butter

¼ cup cream

2 Tbsp parmesan, grated

2 tsp chives, finely chopped

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Kumara puree

2 small kumara, peeled and diced

¼ cup cream

1 Tbsp butter



Small bunch of puha

In this recipe we use ingredients associated with Tipuanuku, Tipuarangi and Waita.


To make the crayfish gratine, heat a small pan to medium, add butter and oil. Then add onion and garlic and cook for 2min or until translucent. Add cream and reduce by half. Then add crayfish and chives. Mix and set aside.

Remove beef eye fillets from packaging, cover, and bring to room temperature. Rub oil over the eye fillet steaks and season. Preheat the pan or BBQ to medium-high and pan-fry the steaks for 3-4min on each side for medium-rare.Transfer to a plate, cover, and rest for 5min.

Put the beef on a baking tray and top with the crayfish. Sprinkle the parmesan on top.

Turn oven to grill and grill the steaks for 5min or until the cheese is golden.

To make the kumara puree, add the kumara to a small pot and cover with water. Boil the kumara until soft. Mash with butter and cream and season to taste.*

To serve, place a portion of puree on the plate and top with beef eye fillet. Garnish with the Puha.

This can be served with your choice of vegetable or salad.

*For an extra smooth mash put all of the ingredients in a food processor to combine.

Venison medallions and watercress salad with rewena croutons and kawakawa dressing

Serves 3


1 pack Silver Fern Farms Venison Medallions

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp horopito, dried

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 Tbsp creme balsamic

Candied walnuts

¼ cup walnuts, crushed

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp brown sugar

Kawakawa dressing

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

2 tsp kawakawa, finely chopped

1 tsp chives, finely chopped

½ garlic clove, crushed

Lemon zest

1 tsp honey

1 Tbsp water

Salt and pepper

To serve

120g watercress

2 slices of rewena, cut into 2×2cm cubes

1 Tbsp butter

150g kumara, cut into 2×2cm cubes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

In this recipe we use ingredients associated to Tipuanuku, Tipuatangi and Waiti.


Remove Silver Fern Farms Venison Medallions from packaging, cover, and bring to room temperature. Mix together the oil, horopito, garlic and balsamic, and rub over the medallions. Preheat the fry-pan or BBQ to medium-high.Pan-fry for 2-3min on each side for medium rare. Transfer to a plate, cover, and rest for 5min.

To make candied walnuts, line a tray with baking paper. In a small pan melt the butter and sugar together. Once bubbling, add the walnuts and stir to coat.

Pour the nuts on to a baking tray and leave to cool. Once cool, cut into small pieces.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ingredients for the kawakawa dressing and set aside.

To make the kumara, preheat the oven to 175degC.

Lightly oil the kumara and season with salt and pepper. Lay flat on a baking tray and bake for 15-20min until cooked through.

Heat butter in a pan over medium heat. Once melted, add croutons, and gently toss until slightly golden and crisp.

To serve, add all the ingredients to a dish and drizzle the dressing over the top.

Manuka marinated lamb rumps with kahawai potato puree

Serves 3-4


1 pack Silver Fern Farms Lamb Rumps

1 Tbsp manuka honey

3 Tbsp mint sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Potato puree:

4 agria potatoes

4 Tbsp butter, room temperature

½ cup cream

100g kahawai, smoked

Zest of 1 lemon

Handful chives, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Zesty sauce:

4 Tbsp mint sauce

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 Tbsp olive oil

Fresh mint, to garish

This recipe uses ingredients associated with Tipuanuku, Tipuarangi and Waita.


Preheat the oven to 180degC.

Remove lamb rumps from packaging, cover, and bring to room temperature. Place all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, pat the lamb rumps with a paper towel and add to the marinade.

Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour. For best results, leave to marinate overnight.

To cook, place the lamb in the oven and roast for 20min for medium-rare.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10min before slicing.

Smoked kahawai. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Smoked kahawai. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Kahawai mash

Peel and chop potatoes into even pieces. Place potatoes in a pot and add cold water until potatoes are just covered. Generously season the water with salt.

Place the pot on a medium-high heat and boil for 10-15min or until tender and completely cooked. Once cooked, drain and mash well. Add in butter and mix thoroughly. Then add cream and stir through.

Flake the smoked kahawai through the mash and gently stir through. Add lemon zest and chives and season to taste.

For the sauce

Mix all of the ingredients together.

To finish

Slice the lamb and spoon over the sauce, garnish with the fresh mint leaves and serve with the kahawai mash.