A raw fish dish is always a lovely way to start a meal, especially in the heat of summer. The tangy chilli dressing really whets your appetite and is nicely balanced with the refreshing crisp flavour of the cucumber, while the fried capers add a salty, crispy edge. One of the most important aspects of this dish is making sure you cut the fish into nice even slices, you will need a sharp knife, otherwise you may run into some problems.
- 1 medium Lebanese cucumber
- 1 tsp river salt
- 20 g capers in brine, excess liquid squeezed out
- vegetable oil for shallow frying
- 20 ml cider vinegar
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 40 ml strained chilli oil
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- 320 g hiramasa kingfish fillet, skinned
- white pepper
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.
Resting time 30 minutes
Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds. Using a very sharp knife slice the cucumber all the way along into nice even 2 mm slices. You should be left with a lovely pile of cucumber in half moons. Place all the cucumber into a mixing bowl, add the salt and give it a good fondle with your hands so the salt is nicely mixed in. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for about half an hour.
Place the oil in a small shallow saucepan so it comes up to about 1 cm and warm over a medium heat until you can see it just beginning to smoke. Gently throw in your capers, they should start to sizzle straight away and fry them for about 2 minutes, keeping them continually moving around with a metal spoon. Once you can see that they have all opened like little flowers scoop them out and let them drain on some paper towel. Set aside.
Place the vinegar in a small mixing bowl, add the sugar and salt, then stir with a spoon until they dissolve. Add in the oil and lemon juice, give the mixture another stir and taste. You want it to be verging on the slightly sweet side as you will get extra saltiness from the cucumber and capers. Set aside.
Take your fish and place it onto a board with the skin side facing up. Use a very sharp knife to cut the fish into 5 mm slices. You need to slice on a slight angle across the grain of your fish in a smooth sweeping action.
As you slice the fish, lay it straight onto a platter forming a line. The pieces should slightly overlap each other. Continue until all the fish is cleanly sliced and arranged decoratively on the platter. Try to minimise handling of the raw product. Season with river salt.
Use your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid from the cucumber and arrange it artfully on top of the fish, making sure you don’t completely camouflage it.
Give your dressing a final quick whisk and taste before you spoon it over the top. Finish your dish with a sprinkle of fried capers and a final turn of white pepper.
• The recipe works just as well with most sashimi-grade white fish. I’d tend not to use a pink fish as they're often more fatty and wouldn't work as well with the oily dressing. As always when dealing with seafood, let yourself be guided by the quality of the fish as opposed to setting your hopes on a particular type.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Trish Heagarty.