Recently, my good friend Chef Al and I had the opportunity to meet my favourite chef, Tetsuya Wakuda. We were so inspired by the simplicity of his dishes that we decided to hold a degustation dinner of our own for some special lady-friends. Each lady-friend brought along a wine to match one of the courses plus a stinky cheese to help round off the night.
All the recipes we used were straight from his cookbook so I won’t repeat them here – but if you want to try to make them yourself just bear in mind that menu was designed to be as sustainable as possible, which meant occasionally omitting or substituting some ingredients such as bonito for swordfish.
And now, to the food…
Oysters with rice wine vinaigrette
Served with champagne
These were so good! I have only just recently started to enjoy oysters very recently but I would have these again and again. I think it helped that I chose Sydney rock oysters instead of those big beasty Pacific monsters, as these were small, creamy and easily swallowable. The vinaigrette was so simple to make, and topped with a few chopped chives they look all special posh. (No roe though for sustainability reasons of course.) A great dinner party dish!
Cold soup of carrot and saffron with beancurd
Served with a light rose
The soup was earthy and full of flavour, and the smooth beancurd a very delicate and creamy contrast. As dusk fell, we moved into the next stage of the evening: the main courses.
Seared bonito with artichoke and olive
Served with chardonnay
Despite a desperate last-minute filleting frenzy (the fishmonger hadn’t done what she’d promised!), the dish came together beautifully. The bonito isn’t a fish we’d either eaten or cooked with much but it had a firm, steaky texture reminiscent of tuna and had a strong enough flavour to stand up to the black olive sauce. I would definitely make this again.
Grilled duck breast with apple and ginger sauce
Served with pinot noir
For me personally, this was my favourite dish of the night. It was SO easy, yet so impressive; the flavours in the apple and ginger dipping sauce (we used it here as just a sauce to top the duck) were perfectly balanced, slightly sweet, slightly salty and very fragrant, and light and clean to compare with the rich meatiness of the duck breast. I couldn’t get baby leeks as Tetsuya presrcibed so instead a trimmed and blanched a few spring onions then sauteed and slightly caramelised them in the fat left after searing the duck. I think it worked brilliantly and gave the dish a burst of sweetness and texture. The only thing I’d do differently next time is I’d crisp the bejesus out of the skin.
Flourless chocolate cake with ginger, fig and honey ice-cream
Served with muscat
This dish was a bit of a pain in the neck. We couldn’t find orange paste to make the orange ice-cream suggested so had to rely on shop-bought (but very delicious) ice-cream to accompany the cake. The cake was nice, improved greatly by extra cocoa and ice-cream (and several bottles of wine) but I’d personally stick with my usual flourless chocolate cake recipe which I’ll post someday soon. This one had a nice slightly bitter cocoa edge but was much more effort than my favourite recipe and texturally not as smooth or moist in my opinion.
All-in-all a very fun, special, happy and delicious evening was had by all! Fellow foodies, why not hold a special dinner of your own for Hope Month?