“Tetsuya Wakuda, one of Australia’s top restaurateurs, has one of the most refined palates in the country. While the dishes served in his restaurant are incredibly complex, some of the underlying building blocks are easy and achievable for us to do at home. His all-purpose base with mirin, sake and soy is useful as a marinade, as a salad dressing and, in this instance, by adding miso, as a brush-on flavour as the fish is cooking.” Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Fire
- Spanish mackerel fillets, skin scored
- white sesame oil
- sancho pepper (prickly ash pear)
- yuzukosho paste, to serve (see Note)
- 900 ml (30½ fl oz) mirin
- 300 ml (10 fl oz) cooking sake
- 300 ml (10 fl oz) soy sauce
- 200–250 ml (7–8½ fl oz) saikyo (sweet white) miso, depending on saltiness
Turnip and pomelo salad
- 2 Japanese baby turnips, per person
- 1 pomelo segment, cut into 3, per person
- 1 French radish, halved lengthways and painted with white sesame oil, per person
- pickled ginger, finely julienned, to garnish
- 1 finger lime, halved lengthways, per person
- finely julienned orange zest, to garnish
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.
To make the base, bring the mirin and sake to the boil in a medium saucepan just to evaporate the alcohol. Cool.
Add the soy sauce.
(Note: This mixture can be used for yakiniku or as a base with ginger, garlic, spring onions, Korean chilli paste and sesame oil as a dressing. It will make more than you need but can be stored in the refrigerator.)
Add the miso to the base, and adjust for preference with more mirin or honey if you like it a little sweeter.
Over the radiant heat from a hot charcoal grill, grill the mackerel on skewers, flesh-side down to start, turn it over when it starts to look cooked on the flesh side. Towards the end of cooking, brush the top side with a little of the base. Continue to cook briefly before turning and painting the other side. Continue turning and painting until the fish is cooked and caramelised. You want the fish to be just cooked or slightly translucent in the centre.
Brush the fish with white sesame oil before removing from the grill. Sprinkle the skin with sancho pepper.
Assemble the salad on serving plates with the fish. Serve with yuzukosho paste.
• Yuzukosho paste is made from green chilli, yuzu and salt. It can be purchased ready-made from Japanese grocery stores.
Recipe from Food Safari Fire by Maeve O'Meara (Hardie Grant, hbk, $55). Photography by Kaily Koutsogiannis.