• Sokyo's Robatayaki (The Chefs' Line)Source: The Chefs' Line

Robatayaki translates to “fireside cooking”, where meat and vegetables are slow-cooked over a charcoal grill.






Skill level

Average: 4.4 (12 votes)

The Japanese use binchotan charcoal for grilling because of its ability to reach high temperatures (up to 1000ºC) and its clean fumes, which means it imparts a clean smoked flavour to the food. I really love cooking with binchotan. The best thing about it is you’re cooking off dry heat – there’s absolutely no flames (or there shouldn’t be!). Because binchotan is so hot, as soon as any fat hits the charcoal, it can flare up, so to control any fat flare ups, fan the charcoal while cooking so no flames can catch.

It’s a popular way to eat in Japan, where customers are seated around the grill. The Japanese have designed a customised charcoal grill that can sit on a table, known affectionately as a binchotan box.

Alfonsino, also known as red bream, is a really fatty white fish, which makes it ideal for grilling – the fat will drip on the binchotan and smoke it like crazy. I get the skin really crispy first – so crispy it’s almost like eating “scales”. I think Australian alfonsino is the best alfonsino in the world.



  • 500 ml ice-cold water
  • 5 g brown sugar
  • 30 g sea salt
  • 5 ml rice vinegar
  • 140 g alfonsino (red bream) fillet, skin on
  • 100 g egg whites
  • 200 g small puffed Japanese rice crackers (arare) 



  • 2 king brown mushrooms
  • oil, for cooking
  • butter, for cooking
  • 2 spring onions
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and white pepper 


Aji vinegar

  • 23 g aji amarillo paste (see Note)
  • 12 g rice vinegar (shiragiku)
  • 12 g grapeseed oil
  • 6 g yuzu juice (see Note)
  • 1 g salt
  • 1 g white pepper
  • 2 g ginger 


Kamkoku sambal

  • 120 ml soy sauce (see Note)
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) water
  • 3 g sambal oelek (see Note)
  • 36 g brown sugar
  • 5 ml sesame oil 


Truffle poke sauce

  • 30 g aji vinegar (see above)
  • 180 ml kamkoku sambal (see above)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) truffle oil (see Note)
  • 10 g finely chopped coriander
  • 10 ml freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lime zest to garnish 


Balsamic spray

  • 30 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 90 ml grapeseed oil
  • 30 ml soy sauce (see Note) 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Brining time: 30 minutes

Prepare the binchotan grill. Light up the charcoal till fully lit, place in the binchotan box in an even single layer and let it ash over (to prevent flames when cooking and allow for a more gentle heat to cook with). 

For the alfonsino, first prepare the brining liquid. Mix the water, sugar, salt and vinegar together, stirring until dissolved.

Place the fish, skin-side up, into a shallow plate. Pour enough of the brining liquid into the plate so that only the flesh is submerged and the skin remains dry. Brine for 30 minutes, then remove from brine, pat dry and refrigerate until required.

Whisk the eggwhites until foamy and refrigerate until required.

Place the rice crackers on a dinner plate and set aside. 

For the vegetables, lightly score the mushrooms, not too deep, around the bottom half of the stem, in a criss-cross pattern, then halve lengthways. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add the mushrooms and cook briefly until just softened on the outside. Remove and set aside.

Trim the spring onions and remove any dry outer layers. Set aside. 

For the aji vinegar, blend all the ingredients together. (Makes more than you need.) 

For the kamkoku sambal sauce, blend all the ingredients together. (Makes more than you need.) 

For the truffle poke sauce, put the aji vinegar and kamkoku sambal in a blender and gradually add the truffle oil while blending. Transfer to a bowl and stir through the coriander and lime juice. Set aside. 

For the balsamic spray, combine the vinegar, soy sauce and oil in a spray bottle and set aside. 

To grill, insert 4 skewers into the fish widthways (for stability) and cook on the grill, skin-side down, briefly to tenderise the skin. Remove from the grill and poke the skin with a skewer to help the fat release.

Brush the foamy eggwhite onto the fish skin in a light coating, then dip the fish skin in the rice crackers, so they coat the skin completely (like scales).

Return to the grill, skin-side down, lightly spray the flesh with the balsamic spray and also quickly spray the charcoal (to infuse the smoke with vinegar), cover with an upturned saucepan or metal bowl and grill until the “scales” are crispy, turn over and cook until fish is cooked medium-rare.

Place the mushrooms on a grill, place over the charcoal, spray lightly with the balsamic spray, cover with an upturned saucepan or metal bowl and cook until tender.

Coat the spring onions with olive oil and season with salt and white pepper. Place on a wire grill, place over the charcoal, spray with the balsamic spray and cook until tender. 

To serve, slice the fish lengthways into 4 strips and place on a serving plate. Cut the spring onions on an angle and arrange on top of the fish. Arrange the mushrooms alongside. Drizzle over the truffle poke sauce and grate over the lime zest.


Chef’s notes 

• I like to use Yamasa brand soy sauce, available from Japanese grocers.

• Aji amarillo paste is a Peruvian hot yellow pepper paste, available from Latin American grocers an online.

• Sambal oelek is an Indonesian chilli, shrimp and fish paste, available from Asian grocers.

• Truffle oil is available from specialty food stores and online.


Chase Kojima is the head chef of Sokyo and Gojima. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series