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Australia, by Way of Japan

Fusion chef Tetsuya Wakuda marries East to West, and great wine to brilliant food

Harvey Steiman
Posted: July 19, 2001

  Tartare of Tuna With Goat Cheese  
  Roasted Barramundi With Bitter Greens and Truffled Peaches  
  Web Exclusive:
Double-Cooked Deboned Poussin With Bread Sauce
  Slow-Roasted Rack of Lamb With Miso and Blue Cheese  
  Flourless Chocolate Cake With Clotted Cream  
  Wine Suggestions  
  More of Harvey Steiman's Food and Wine Recipes  
Australia, by Way of Japan

Fusion chef Tetsuya Wakuda marries East to West, and great wine to brilliant food

By Harvey Steiman

To say that what Tetsuya Wakuda prepares is fusion cuisine doesn't even come close to describing the sublime creations that come from his Australian kitchen. When he combines ideas, techniques and ingredients from his native Japan and the West, the food on the plate tastes as if it was meant to be.

Unlike many chefs who meld Asian and Western traditions, Tetsuya (no one calls him by his last name; it's always Tetsuya) creates harmonious dishes that welcome wine. The subtler and more refined the wine, the better. "Cooking is balance," he says. "It is flavors and textures that combine so that nothing sticks out. And that's what food and wine should be."

This menu reflects Tetsuya's signature style of presenting a long series of small-portioned dishes. The cuisine, which is very personal, is full of ideas that are original and astonishing in their refinement, although Tetsuya insists that he is not trying to create anything new. "Definitely not," he says. "I look for the very best ingredients, and I use techniques that will enhance the flavor of the actual produce."

Tetsuya displays remarkable sensitivity to the nuances of each of his ingredients. His signature creation, slow-roasted ocean trout with kombu (a type of seaweed used to flavor broths in Japan), originally was made with salmon farmed in the cool waters near Tasmania. When salmon went out of season, he discovered he could improve the dish by using ocean trout. "It has a finer texture, more delicate oil. It's definitely a finer fish," he says. "That's what the technique wanted."

Tetsuya experiments in a similar fashion with wine. When he tastes a new bottle, he says, "my first reaction, if I like it, might be, ooh, that would be good with swordfish. I do the same when I'm eating. I'll be drinking, say, Shiraz, and thinking, this is good, but Cabernet Sauvignon [with this dish] would be great."

Tartare of Tuna With Goat Cheese

  • 8 ounces raw sashimi-grade tuna, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped anchovies
  • 2 ounces fresh goat cheese (not too salty), cut into same size dice as the tuna
  • 3/4 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • Garnish: Baby shiso, mâche

Note: If you can't find shiso, omit it and just use mâche for garnish.

Gently mix together all the ingredients. Divide among 4 serving plates, and garnish with shiso and mâche leaves. Serves 4.

Roasted Barramundi With Bitter Greens and Truffled Peaches

  • 4 fillets, 5 1/2 ounces each, of barramundi, skin on and trimmed (or striped bass)
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • 4 small truffled wild peaches (or green olives), finely sliced


  • 1 medium-sized endive, julienned
  • 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons julienned arugula
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon quality Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed oil


  • 4 tablespoons wakame
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons truffle oil

Wakame is a seaweed that's popular in Japan. Tetsuya uses fresh wakame, which comes packed in salt. Put the wakame in a strainer and rinse before cutting it. Run the wakame under hot tap water for a few seconds to brighten the color. Rinse in cold water and squeeze dry. To prepare dried wakame, put the seaweed in a bowl of cold water and drain immediately. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Feel the wakame; it should be soft. Do not soak in water or it will fall apart.

Preheat the broiler. Halve each barramundi fillet lengthwise. Season lightly with salt and pepper and place them on a broiler pan. Cook them under the broiler skin-side up—not too close-so that the radiant heat cooks the fish, about 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.

Toss together all the salad ingredients and mix well.

Place a little wakame on the base of each serving plate, put the peaches on top, and then the fish. Spoon a little salad on the side, and garnish with a little salt and cracked black pepper. Drizzle the truffle oil on top. Serves 4.

Double-cooked Deboned Poussin With Bread Sauce

  • 4 fluid ounces goose fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 pinch castor (superfine) sugar
  • 1 pinch sea salt

    Chicken Jus

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup Port
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon walnut oil

    Bread Sauce

  • 6 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil

    Parsley Oil

  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil


  • 1 medium-sized daikon, peeled and left whole
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2-by-1 1/2-inch piece kombu


  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 leeks, cut into 6-inch lengths
  • 3 1/2 ounces spinach leaves
  • 3 1/2 ounces fresh soybeans or broad beans
  • 4 small pink fir apple potatoes, peeled and boiled
Note: Have the butcher halve the poussin lengthwise and remove the wing, breastbones, ribs and thighbone. You should have four deboned poussin halves with only leg bones intact. Wrap the skin of the poussin around the base of the bone to form a plump leg.

Place a poussin in the corner of a freezer bag and spoon over some goose fat. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Expel all air from the freezer bag and secure tightly. Repeat with the rest of the birds.

Bring a saucepan of water to 140°F – test with a thermometer – and lower the bags with the poussin into the water. Put a lid on to make sure they don't float to the top. Cook for 35 minutes. Test by pushing your finger into the poussin flesh (it should just go into the flesh). Once cooked, allow to rest and open the bag. Remove the poussin, season with sea salt and place under a hot grill until golden brown.

To make the chicken jus, reduce the chicken stock by one-third over high heat, add the Port and reduce to a syrup. Stir in the salt, soy sauce and walnut oil. Set aside.

To make the bread sauce, place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor and process until crumbed. Slowly drizzle in the oil and process until a thick paste forms. Set aside.

To make the parsley oil, puree the parsley leaves in a blender and, with the motor running, slowly add the oil. Blend until a smooth sauce forms. Set aside.

To prepare the daikon, place all ingredients in a saucepan, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper under the lid (this minimizes any vibration) and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook until tender. Remove the daikon and slice into 1/2-inch thick discs.

Heat the chicken stock and add the leeks. Poach until tender, remove and slice thinly.

Blanch the spinach and soybeans in boiling water.

Divide the spinach between serving plates. Place some daikon on top, then the poussin, leeks and chicken jus. Drizzle with parsley oil and sprinkle with soybeans. Place the potato and two teaspoons of bread sauce to the side. Serves 4 to 6.

Page 2

For the complete article, please see the July 31, 2001, issue of Wine Spectator magazine, page 78.

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