As part of a kaiseki menu at the Japanese Embassy in Canberra, chef Mr Shioi takes inspiration from the seasons by recreating autumn foliage with this beautiful dish. "Here, we’re looking for a drink that can let the delicate flavours shine. It should be able to hint at the sweet nuttiness of the chestnut, while also cleaning the palate after the crunch of the fried noodles and meringue. Time to turn to Australia’s small but prospering sake industry. Based near the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Sun-Masamune have been producing sake from high-quality Australian rice and natural water for more than 15 years. The most readily available is their Go-Shu Blue sake, which is a good place to start: dry, smooth and with a nice interplay of sweet and savoury flavours." - Dan Coward
- 4 shelled prawns, deveined
- 10 ml Japanese sake
- 1 egg
- 2 g salt
- 15 g cornflour
- ⅔ daikon radish (or ½ carrot)
- 1 egg white
- 100 g plain flour, for dusting
- 4 sweetened chestnuts (see Note)
- 1 bunch dried somen (or soba) noodles, broken into 1 cm pieces
- 4 bamboo skewers
Sweetened chestnuts (makes 35 chestnuts)
- 500 g chestnuts
- pinch of salt
- yellow food colouring (see Note)
- 150 g sugar
- 30 ml mirin
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 match Sun Masamune Go-Shu Blue Junmai Ginjo Sake, Penrith, NSW
To make the sweetened chestnuts, remove the outer shells and skin from the chestnuts. Soak overnight in a large bowl of water, with a pinch of salt and a couple of drops of yellow food colouring.
Drain the chestnuts and then place in a saucepan with enough water to cover the chestnuts. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 15–20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
In another saucepan, add 250 ml of water, the sugar, mirin, another drop of the food colouring and a very small pinch of salt. Add the chestnuts to this pan. Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes.
Place the prawns in a food processor. Add the sake, whole egg, salt and cornflour and blend together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Scoop out the daikon (or carrot) with a 27 mm diameter melon baller to make four half balls. Insert a skewer on the scooped daikon pieces in the middle of the flat surface.
Beat the egg white until stiff. Dust flour over a bench and spread the prawn mixture. Wrap the prawn mixture around the end of the skewer towards the daikon. Cover with the meringue and stick the dried noodles pieces all over the surface of the meringue.
Heat some oil to160°C. Holding the end of the skewer, very carefully dip the skewer into the hot oil, and deep-fry for 4–5 minutes or until golden.
Cut a cross where the skewer is, and discard the daikon piece. Place a sweetened chestnut in the cup that was created by removing the daikon. Repeat this with the rest.
• They will cook better made in bulk. Remaining sweet chestnuts can be stored in a jar for another time or for using in a dessert.
• In Japan Mr Shioi would have used a vegetable dye from the seed of a gardenia flower.