EDIT: Ocean Room has now closed
It's not everyday that you receive an invitation to attend an "intimate cooking session and lunch" with Raita Noda, Chef de Cusine at Ocean Room at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay.
It was a rhetorical invitation really, especially since I had long been a fan of Noda's dishes at Rise in Darlinghurst, but had yet to sample his new east-meets-west take on seafood at Ocean Room.
An eager group of ten assembled at Ocean Room on a Saturday morning, when the restaurant was closed for service. Gathered on stools around the sushi bar, we listened as Noda spoke about the importance of fresh seafood, and watched as he effortlessly filleted a baby snapper.
Noda was demonstrating his deep-fried baby snapper salad, and after expertly filleting the fish, each piece was pinboned and then sliced into bite-sized morsels.
We are made acutely aware of his knifeskills when some audience participation results in some clumsy sawing action, a marked contrast to his deft and effortless ballet with the blade.
Noda is a man who knows his seafood: his ease and quiet confidence is quickly apparent. Fish should be killed immediately, he explained, so as to avoid stress to the fish which affects its appearance and taste. Stress causes blood to recirculate in the dying fish, usually evidenced by pink-hued flesh or fish which has visible blood spots.
Towards the head of a fish fillet is softer and better for sashimi, the tail end is firmer and good for steaming. It is best to relax a fish for 2-3 hours after killing, for sashimi it is best gutted and left for half a day in the fridge to soften.
When his staff return the snapper, all deep-fried and golden--including the head and bones, fried three times for maximum crispness--Noda prepares a simple mustard vinaigrette made from grape seed oil, red wine vinegar, a blitzed white onion, mustard, soy and mirin.
The snapper, its tail curled over like a crashing wave at the beach, is layered with baby rocket, chervil, mint, coriander, dill, parsley and julienned leeks. Pillows of deep-fried snapper fillets are laid down, then topped with Spanish onion slivers, fried garlic, fried onion and delicate strips of cheerful red chilli. Fat bubbles of salmon roe add the finishing touch.
It's a visual masterpiece.
I can't wait for lunch.
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Ocean Room CLOSED
Circular Quay West, The Rocks, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8273 1277
Lunch Tuesday to Friday from 12pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday from 6pm
Related GrabYourFork posts:Ocean Room (Feb09) and (Oct06)
Ocean Room NYE Cocktail Party (Jan08)Ocean Room Cooking Demonstration with Raita Noda (Oct06)
Cooking session with Raita Noda, Ocean Room
Rise, Darlinghurst (May 2005)
Rise, Darlinghurst (February 2005)
Rise Darlinghurst (August 2004)
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10/09/2006 11:58:00 pm