A new collaboration will see one of New Zealand's most prominent Asian food manufacturers join forces with hāngi master Rewi Spraggon, to produce an industry first, a hāngī pork steamed bun, to be sold in supermarkets.
The company, Old Country Foods, is also expanding to make vegan and 'free from' products, and is now fielding export opportunities, following a post-pandemic surge in international demand.
The fusion of Māori and Asian cuisine can be heated in the microwave in just one minute.
Hāngi Master, Rewi Spraggon says it took him eight to nine months to perfect the taste before it left his hāngi pits.
“I brine the pork for 18 hours, it's smoked first over the hāngi pit using Manuka … and then we cook it in the pit for three hours and then it comes to Amy.”
Old Country Foods chief executive Dr Amy Sevao says another process is needed before the final product can be placed on supermarket shelves.
“In the pot itself, just making the filling is seven hours, and they have to cool down before we can go into a machine so that's like 48 hours in the chiller. In the machine there's a whole day process, it gets steamed, packed, and chilled. That's another two days. So really … it's like a week-long process to get the bun to you.”
Both parties hope that the combination of these foods will tantalise the tastebuds of food connoisseurs both at home and abroad.
“They call it a ‘Tu Yao,’ an earth oven, and it's like our hāngi pits as well, so there's a lot of similarities with our people and Taiwan so I think that whakapapa of joining, took us 2000 years to get together but we're here, it's 2022, let's do something different but to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori,” Spraggon says.
With a medical background, Sevao has ensured her company offers vegan, nut-free, MSG-free and preservative-free products including entirely recyclable or compostable packaging and her procurement team has begun to source all its ingredients locally.
“Let's get rid of all the additives and preservatives. The stuff is frozen and you don't want anything to compromise the taste. If you have it, you're looking after your whānau or you know it's good stuff in there. You don't have to worry about that when feeding it to your kids,” Sevao says.
“So that's another thing that makes it more expensive. But we've committed to that quality and we think everyone deserves to have good food, good healthy food.”
Spraggon and Dr Sevao intend to expand on their flavours and gain favour in Asian markets.
“I reckon the real market is when we sell it back to Taiwan,” says Spraggon.
“We're gonna try a few things whether its pāua pork buns, pāua dumplings, smoked or hāngi or kina or titi or whatever. The world is open for us to try everything, so we've found a really cool vessel now.”
Hāngi pork buns are now available in Pak'n'Save and Countdown supermarkets, and if they aren't available in a local supermarket, Spraggon recommends requesting that they be ordered in.