This modern Japanese dish is flavoured with soy, mirin, sake and sesame. Chef Kenji Ito uses the leaves from a mustard-family plant called mibuna, but for convenience, we’ve used English spinach. Pickle the daikon a day ahead.
- 100 ml cooking sake (see Note)
- 100 ml mirin
- 100 ml Japanese soy sauce
- 8 x 150 g barramundi fillets
- 1 lime, sliced
- 3 tsp ground sansho pepper (see Note)
- 16 bamboo leaves (see Note)
- 500 g table salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- thinly sliced red chilli, to serve (optional)
Pickled daikon (daikon amazuzuke)
- ½ small daikon (see Note)
- 125 ml (½ cup) rice wine vinegar
- 2½ tbsp white sugar
Spinach in sesame dressing (horenso no goma ae)
- 1 bunch English spinach, washed well
- 100 g goma shiro (white sesame seed paste) (see Note)
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp cooking sake
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp Japanese soy sauce
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.
Drink 2011 Wine by Brad Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River ($18).
Standing time 20 minutes
Marinating time 5 minutes
Chilling time overnight
To make pickled daikon, using a sharp knife, peel daikon twice to remove bitter outer layer, then thinly slice into rounds. Toss daikon in a bowl with 2 tsp salt. Stand for 10 minutes or until softened. Rinse well, then squeeze out excess liquid and place in a saucepan with 100 ml water, vinegar and sugar. Bring to the boil, then allow to cool. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
To marinate fish, combine sake, mirin and soy sauce in a large shallow bowl. Add fish fillets, skin-side up, then rub lime slices on fish skin and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain, then scatter with sansho pepper and wrap each fish fillet with 2 bamboo leaves.
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. To make salt crust, combine salt, egg white and 2 tbsp water until mixture resembles wet sand. Add a little extra water, if necessary. Spread half the salt mixture over tray, then place wrapped fish on top. Cover with remaining salt mixture and press to seal. Bake for 25 minutes or until salt crust is hard and lightly browned. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the spinach, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Holding spinach by the roots, dip leaves and stems into the boiling water for 30 seconds or until wilted. Run under cold water then squeeze out excess liquid. Cut into 6 cm lengths and discard roots. Place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
Serve barramundi with the daikon scattered with chilli, if using, and the spinach.
• Ground sansho pepper, the seedpods of the prickly ash, is available from Japanese food shops. Substitute Szechuan peppercorns.
• Bamboo leaves are from nurseries; make sure they are pesticide-free. Substitute dried lotus leaves, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes.
• Daikon, available from selected greengrocers and Asian food shops, is a large type of white radish with a sweet, fresh flavour.
• White sesame seed paste is available from Japanese food shops. Substitute raw tahini.
As seen in Feast magazine, Mar 2012, Issue 7. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.
Photography by Scout Edwards (Whitewall).