The producers: Cambinata yabbies

Author: Max Veenhuyzen
Photography: Jane Kelly

Meet the Western Australian Wheatbelt family supplying live yabbies to the nation and beyond.

Who Michael and Mary Nenke started Cambinata Yabbies in 1991 when depressed wheat and sheep prices forced them to investigate alternative streams of income. Today, all of the Nenke family is involved in the business.

How Cambinata buys yabbies from a huge network of farms located predominantly in the Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions of WA. The yabbies are available year-round, but production quadruples in summer when the yabbies are most active (during winter, the crustaceans enter a state of partial hibernation).

Why Like marron and redclaw, yabbies are a native crayfish (though the word "crayfish" is often used to describe rock lobster in Australia, it's technically a term just for freshwater crustaceans) with sweet, juicy flesh that takes well to steaming, boiling and grilling. All Cambinata's yabbies are sustainably raised in farm dams and fed grain grown by the farmers. A water-saving processing system purges the yabbies of mud while preparing them for domestic and international transport. Yabbies are a cold-water species, so they can be held in good condition in fridges and coolrooms for at least a week, and taste best when kept alive until the time of cooking.

Where Cambinata yabbies are served at several top-flight Perth restaurants including Print Hall and No 4 Blake Street. Live yabbies are available direct from Cambinata Yabbies (prices start at $27.50 per kilogram) and can be delivered anywhere in the world.

Read more: tips for grilling shellfish.

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