This sashimi-style cured kingfish is infused with Lebanese arak, fresh za´atar and star anise, inspired by the Bekka Valley – the home of mezze. The smoky spring onion and Aleppo pepper dressing raise the bar on this lively dish.
- 60 g Kewpie mayonnaise (see Note)
- 1 pickling onion, finely shaved on a mandoline
- 1 baby golden beetroot, finely shaved on a mandoline
- 1 baby chioggia beetroot, finely shaved on a mandoline
- 3 radishes, finely shaved on a mandoline
- 3 cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 6 nasturtium flowers (see Note)
- 12 blue dandelion flowers (see Note)
- 6 chickpea shoots (see Note)
- pinch of sea salt
- 250 g Lebanese rock salt
- 250 g caster sugar
- 5 star anise
- 10 fresh za’atar sprigs (see note)
- 120 ml arak (see note)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 green cardamom pods, bruised
- 3 x 6 cm x 1 cm lemon peel strips
- 5 lemon leaves
- 800 g kingfish fillet, skin removed, pin–boned
Spring onion dressing
- 3–4 spring onions
- 1 preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped
- 2 French shallots, peeled, finely chopped
- pinch of red Aleppo pepper (see note)
- pinch of black Aleppo pepper (see note)
- ½ bunch chives, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 100 ml olive oil
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.
Curing time 5 hours
To make the cure for the kingfish, combine the salt, sugar, star anise, za’atar, arak, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread half the mixture on a tray and lay the kingfish on top. Spread with the remaining cure and cover. Transfer to the fridge to cure for 5 hours, turning half way. Remove the kingfish from the cure and rinse clean. Pat dry with paper towel. Slice into 2–3 mm thick pieces. Refrigerate until required.
To make the spring onion dressing, preheat a barbecue on high. Cook the spring onions on the grill for 2–3 minutes or until starting to caramelise a little. Turn and cook for a further 2–3 minutes or until lightly charred. Transfer the spring onions to a chopping board and slice into 2 cm batons. Place the spring onions in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients and season to taste. If time permits, leave the dressing to marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours, as the floral notes from the orange blossom and the smokiness from the spring onions will continue to develop flavour and intensify. Set aside until ready to use.
To serve, place all the sliced vegetables, except for the cherry tomatoes, into iced water for 15 minutes to make them super-crunchy. Arrange the sliced kingfish, piece by piece, on serving plates and randomly dot with mayo. In no particular order, arrange the vegetables on top of the kingfish then dress with the shoots and flowers. Drizzle over the spring onion dressing and finish with a pinch of sea salt to bring out the flavour of the garnishes. Serve immediately.
• Kewpie is Japanese mayonnaise and is available from Japanese grocers, some supermarkets and Asian grocers.
• Ensure all edible flowers and garnishes are chemical and pesticide free.
• Za'atar is available fresh from November to May. You will need to order in advance from specialty greengrocers. If unavailable, substitute with an equal amount of fresh thyme.
• Arak is an aniseed-flavoured white spirit available from specialty liquor stores.
• Aleppo pepper is a type of capsicum grown in Syria and Turkey. It is sold dried and ground in Middle Eastern delis. If unavailable substitute with piment d’espelette, a mild French pepper.