Carpaccio of tuna and swordfish with a mixed herb salad and brown butter dressing

There are a few reasons why out of the 50 dishes in 3 Star Chef I chose to start with this one. It stood out from the rest with its bold and seemingly simple presentation and the ingredients should be easy enough to find. Plus, I wouldn’t need to buy any kitchen equipment and I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE sashimi. So it was settled and we were off to Sydney Fish Market on a sunny Sunday afternoon to get the ingredients.

I live about a 10 minute walk from what I think must be one of the best Fish Markets in the world, certainly the best in Australia, and maybe only rivalled by this one in Japan. We go there regularly, to either hit up the Yum Cha restaurant above the market or engorge ourselves on freshly shucked oysters, or to purchase WAY more than seafood than we could possibly eat in one sitting, but inevitably do. Everytime we go there, we always wander around marvelling at the days catch and every single time we go there I  always stand in De Costi’s point at a swordfish at least a metre long and say “Look at the size of that swordfish!”

Except not on this occasion, the one time I actually wanted to purchase some swordfish. THANKS FISHERMEN WHAT AM I SPOSE TO DO NOW, HUH?

Of course I instantly took this as a sign of failure, moaning to Adam that it’s just not meant to be and I’ll start over next week.  He placated me and we searched the market again, eventually finding about half a dozen swordfish steaks on ice in one of the display cabinets.

The dish called for 600g swordfish, centre-cut.

After much to-ing and fro-ing about what a centre-cut actually is and cursing my lack of research, I decided to just ask. Genius. The girl serving the fish looked at me blankly, so  I asked for the best two steaks and with the whitest looking meat and left it at that.

Turns out centre cut of a fish, means a cut from the middle part of the fish, not the tail, because the meat is of better quality. Should’ve looked it up before I went. Lesson learnt. Not like I had a choice on this occasion anyway, CURSE YOU FISHERMEN. Hmm, on second thoughts, I better be nice to to the Fisherman Gods as I’m going to need them to be good to me later in this project.

The tuna was easy to get, althought not the best selection as it was getting kind of late in the day. Still awesome though. Then I couldn’t find baby chard leaves so I got watercress instead and I was lucky enough to get the last daikon (long white radish) at the market. I even found an el-cheapo $15 jar of black caviar to replace the $250 Oscietra Caviar recommended by the G-man.

Here are all the ingredients back home and ready to go. If you have the book the recipe is on page 146.


First I placed the fish in the freezer for a few hours to firm it up enough to cut some nice neat logs. Not quite as nice and neat as I had hoped – I think I might need some new knives for this project. Then the logs got wrapped together and frozen for a much longer time until I needed them later.


Next I sliced the daikon on the mandolin ready to be marinated….


And then combined the ingredients of the marinade until bubbling – soy sauce, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and shallots – I can tell you this smelled absolutely divine and would be a great marinade or dipping sauce for the tuna on its own.


Once cooled, I spread it over the daikon, covered it with Glad-wrap and left it to marinate for a few hours. Then I sat on the couch and watched TV for a bit as I was still recovering from attending this party the night before.


A while later, about an hour before we wanted to eat I was up for the challenge of the brown butter sauce, really the only bit of “cooking” in this recipe. I caremelized the butter in a saucepan and attempted to drain off the liquid leaving the residue behind.


That then got whizzed with the cream, some lemon juice and some olive oil until thick consistency. The book says blitz for 20 seconds but it took me about 5 or 6 times that to get the right consistency. I reserved the sauce in a squeezy bottle in a pan of luke warm water ready for plating up.


The fish in the freezer was now rock hard (and a little wonky) but more or less ready to go.



Then sharpened my knife and started slicing. They say in the book that they use a meat slicer to do this in the restaurant, so I was a bit worried, but my crappy knife worked fine and the fish held together well.



To say I was impressed with my presentation on this would be a massive understatement. I was ecstatic with the way it turned out.





Taste wise, well, disappointingly I wasn’t that thrilled. It just didn’t have the freshness of real sashimi after it had been pushed, pulled, frozen and thawed to get to the plate in that state. The marinated daikon was totally bomb, the brown butter sauce slightly too lemony (my fault) and the caviar a bit cheap tasting (no surprise there).

If I made this again, I wouldn’t bother with the checkerboard presentation. I’d simply prepare the marinated daikon before hand, whip up some brown butter dressing and serve with freshly sliced sashimi.



  1. Posted April 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    look great! i love tuna!


  2. rebeccayik
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    wow…A+ on the presentation… pitty you weren’t too blown away with the taste…

    i’m thinking a brand new set of chef knives will come with this brand new adventure?

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