Taking inspiration from the sturgeon of the Caspian Sea, Shane’s silky tomato and saffron custard is topped with “faux” caviar made from squid ink–flavoured tapioca pearls. 






Skill level

Average: 3 (22 votes)


  • 8 red vein sorrel sprigs
  • 8 nasturtium flowers
  • 8 Lebanese cress sprigs
  • 8 garlic flowers

Tomato custard

  • 3 sheets gold-strength leaf gelatine (see note)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • pinch of saffron
  • 6 egg yolks, plus 1 egg (from 65 g eggs)
  • 450 g oxheart tomatoes, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and black pepper 

“Faux” caviar

  • 125 ml (½ cup) port
  • 1 French shallot, sliced
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 tbsp squid ink
  • 50 g tapioca pearls

Spanner crab salad

  • 200 g cooked and picked spanner crab meat
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped French shallots
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1 lemon, finely zested 
  • extra virgin olive oil, to taste


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.


Setting time 1 hour

To make the tomato custard, bloom the gelatine by placing in a bowl and covering with cold water. Leave for 5 minutes until softened, then drain and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Set aside in a dry bowl.

Combine the milk and saffron in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Set aside.

To make the custard I would normally use a Thermomix in the restaurant. To do so, combine the egg yolks and egg, tomato, saffron milk, tomato paste and salt and pepper in a Thermomix set to 70°C, for 6 minutes at speed 5. Once the time has elapsed, add the gelatine and blend to combine, then pass through a fine sieve. Fill serving glasses with 100 ml of the custard and refrigerate for 1–1 ½ hours or until set.

To make the custard the old–fashioned way, place the tomato in a blender and blend until smooth. Combine the saffron milk and tomato puree in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks and egg, tomato paste and salt and pepper together until combined. Whisking continuously, add the hot milk to the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium–low heat until the custard reaches 80°C. Add the bloomed gelatine, whisk until dissolved then pass though a fine sieve. Fill serving glasses with 100 ml of the custard and refrigerate for 1–1½ hours or until set.

To make the “faux” caviar, combine the port, shallot, thyme, bay leaf and garlic in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook over high heat until reduced by half. Strain through a fine sieve and discard solids. Add the squid ink and stir until well combined.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the tapioca pearls and cook for 5–6 minutes or until tender and translucent. Drain, refresh in iced water while stirring to prevent the pearls sticking together. Drain again, then add the tapioca to the squid ink mixture and season to taste. Refrigerate until required.

To make the crab salad, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, season to taste and mix gently to combine.

To serve, divide the crab salad between the custards. Top with a generous teaspoon of caviar and dress with the herbs and edible flowers. Serve immediately.


• Leaf gelatine is flavourless and odourless and comes in sheets of differing strengths. You can buy leaf gelatine in cake supply stores and specialty baking stores.