Sashimi with soy tapioca & wasabi yuzu beurre blanc

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Preparation info

  • For

    8

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

This dish is an extreme deliberate example of Fusion cuisine. A classic Japanese ‘dish’ of raw fish is paired with a classic French sauce - beurre blanc - but one that has in turn been flavoured with wasabi and yuzu juice - two classic Japanese ingredients. To top it off, I’ve added one of my personal ‘classic’ garnishes - soy tapioca. This tapioca gives a wonderful flavour, but it’s also a visual play on salmon eggs or caviar. All up this dish is a perfect tapa - colours that are gorgeous, the flavours subtle and the whole thing really playful. I used fresh grated wasabi for this - which I’m aware isn’t that easy to get hold of. Wasabi paste, from a tube or made by mixing the powder with water, will be fine - but it’s probably worth noting that most of what we call wasabi is a mixture of horseradish or mustard powder mixed with green food colouring. There just doesn’t seem to be enough real wasabi to supply all the world’s Japanese restaurants. Yuzu is another hard-to-get-hold-of item - you can simply use lime juice instead. Yuzu has a flavour like a cross between tangerine and grapefruit. Any fresh fish will work for this dish, even raw scallops or oysters - I used salmon fillet. It’s quite hard to make just enough soy tapioca for eight portions, so you’ll have plenty left over - serve the extra on the side. You’ll need to make the tapioca at least 6 hours in advance - it takes that long for it to absorb its marinade.

Ingredients

  • 50 g (4 Tbsp) tapioca ‘pearls’
  • 150 ml Japanese soy sauce
  • 100 ml mirin
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) yuzu juice or lime juice
  • 400 g best quality fish fillet, skin and bones removed
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) cream
  • a few pinches of very finely grated yuzu or lime zest
  • 80 g unsalted butter, cut into 1-cm chunks or thereabouts, take from the fridge 10 minutes before making the sauce
  • 1 heaped tsp wasabi paste (more or less, to taste) cress or sprouts to garnish

Method

Bring 1 litre of water to the boil and stir in the tapioca. Keep on a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, and after 5 minutes add 200 ml cold water. This seems to help the tapioca cook more quickly. Bring back to a gentle boil and again add a cup of cold water. Bring back to the boil. At this point the tapioca should almost be cooked - by which I mean the centre of most of the pearls will be translucent. They don’t all cook at the same speed, but so long as most are translucent that’s fine. If they’re not ready then cook until they are. Drain through a fine sieve and rinse gently with cold water for 10 seconds then place in a bowl. Stir in the soy and mirin and half the yuzu or lime juice. The tapioca will slowly absorb the liquids, so give it a stir from time to time, keeping it in the fridge. This will need to be made at least 8 hours in advance. If when you come to serve this it’s stuck together, then loosen it up a little, either with some extra soy, mirin or water to taste.

When you’re almost ready to serve the dish, slice the fish into either 16 or 24 even-sized pieces and place on a tray covered with a not-too-damp cloth while you make the beurre blanc.

In a small pan, bring the cream and yuzu zest to a boil, simmer for 10 seconds making sure it doesn’t boil dry, then turn the heat down low. Whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time, making sure they’ve almost completely emulsified before adding the next. Once you’ve added half the butter, whisk in the remaining yuzu or lime juice and the wasabi paste, then continue whisking in the remaining butter little by little. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more juice, salt or wasabi as needed. Keep the pan a little warm, but the sauce may split if heated too much.

To Serve

It’s important that the plates are warm, or else this buttery sauce can go a little firm. Spoon some sauce onto your plates, then lay 2-3 slices of fish on top. Spoon on some of the tapioca and then garnish with the cress or sprouts. Eat immediately.