From: Lopez, Trissa
Sent: Monday, 2 November 2009 3:43 PM
Subject: Query on Tetsuya Book
Dear Mr. Tetsuya,
So sorry to bother you – I have a book of yours and since I am not able to get a booking at your fabulous restaurant until next year, I wanted to try and recreate the Confit Ocean Trout at home. The recipe asks for konbu – but the konbu I found doesn’t look like it is for the recipe (ie a large sheet when I think the recipe requires a powder??).
I have been asking the Japanese shops close by if they know what this is but they said there is so many products that they don’t know where to begin.
Are you able to tell me what the konbu you are referring to? Is there a particular brand?
I emailed Tetsuya. I really did! I know, my husband must be wanting to go into hiding right now. He thinks I have no shame. Truth is, he’s probably right!
Let me back up a little bit. For those that don’t know who/what is Tetsuya. Tetsuya is a three hat restaurant in Sydney owned by Tetsuya Wakuda. They have been consistently awarded the highest rating in Sydney’s Good Food Guide since 1992 and has been named one of the top restaurants in the world by S Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
While his accomplishments are many, he is a very humble man and so approachable. I still remember when I went there with my Mom about a year ago. Mr. Tetsuya went to our table and I introduced myself and my Mom to him. I told him that we had waited 3 months to get a table at his restaurant. He chatted with us awhile and then before he left he gave my Mom a piece of paper and said “Mrs. Lopez, this is for you so that you never have to wait three months again.” It was his business card with a “secret phone number” for special reservations! On top of that, on our way home they gave her a cookbook too!
Well, anyway, my Mom took the card with her and I was never able to use the “secret phone number”. So I had to try to get a booking like the rest of us mortals. However, every time I would call, I’d get told that the earliest available table on a weekend was three months or four months away…
So I said to myself, if I can’t get a table, I’ll just make the dish myself. Which is why I emailed Mr. Tetsuya – I wanted to recreate the most famous dish in Australia, some say, the most photographed dish in the world. It’s not hard to see why, not only does it taste delicious, it’s a really beautiful dish. Imagine a fillet of ocean trout a top a salad of fennel, barely cooked so that it still maintains it bright orangey red colour, topped with konbu shavings and a sprinkling of chives. It is surrounded by a parsley caper oil and dots of ocean trout caviar… it’s just genius!
That afternoon I got a call from his personal assistant – she was kind enough to tell me that yes, it was the same konbu but they had staff that were skilled enough to cut the konbu up into tiny tiny pieces. While we were chatting I tried again, “was there a table available?” and miraculously she said yes! Did I want a lunch or dinner booking?
So that’s how I got my reservation for Tetsuya on a Saturday lunch – and that’s where the inspiration for this blog came from.
So finally, how did I deal with the konbu? Well, I bought some konbu strands (but I am sure you can use sheets to the same effect) and I ground them up with a spice grinder!
The final result? Delicious! If I wanted to eat this dish again, there is no need for me to ask my mom for that “secret number”!
Recipe (Adapted from Tetsuya’s cookbook)
Note: The dish is so gorgeous that I initially expected it was very difficult to make. It’s not. Really. I promise. You just need a good fish monger that will fillet the fish for you…. and a spice grinder is helpful too!
- 350 grams ocean trout (or use salmon if unavailable in your area), skinned and filleted
- 100 ml grapeseed oil
- 80 ml olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 10 whole basil leaves
- 3 stalks thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 small carrots, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 4 tablespoons konbu, finely chopped (if you are not inclined to do so, grind them using a spice grinder)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons ocean trout caviar (or salmon caviar if unavailable)
- 1/4 bulb fennel, shaved (use a mandolin for best results)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- leaved from 1/4 bunch italian/flat leaf parsley
- 50 ml olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 1/2 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and drained
- Ask your fish monger to skin and cut the trout into four pieces. Each should not weigh more than 100 grams each. Marinate the ocean trout in the grapeseed oil, olive oil, ground coriander, pepper, basil leave, thyme stalks, and garlic.
- Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (I left mine overnight).
- To cook the fish, preheat the oven to 65c and take the fish out and allow to come to room temperature.
- Then, lay the fish on a bed of celery and carrots and place in the oven. Paint the surface of the fish every few minutes with the oil marinade.
- Depending on the size of the fish, Tetsuya recommends this should take no longer than 7 or 8 minutes with the door of the oven open. I found that with the door closed, mine took 25 minutes before I was happy with the texture. The fish should remain pink but be be cooked enough that you can use a very sharp knife to cut all the way through the fish.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- To make the salad, slice the fennel on a mandolin (you can also use apples and daikon together). Toss with the lemon juice, salt and pepper and oil.
- To make the parsley oil, puree the parsley, olive oil and capers in a blender. Strain.
- To serve, plate some fennel salad on the base of the plate. Add the ocean trout and sprinkle with the konbu, chives and some salt.
- Drizzle the parsley oil around the edges and dot some ocean trout caviar around the trout and regular intervals.