Yellowfin tuna sashimi with prawns, ginger and wasabi

Yellowfin tuna sashimi with prawns, ginger and wasabi

William Meppem

This dish has a loyal following at the Botanical. It resulted from an accidental oversupply of some first-class sashimi-grade tuna. It was such beautiful fish that instead of sending it back to the supplier, I created a new dish to sell it that night. It had to be paired with something popular like prawns and had to be a cold dish otherwise the night’s service would be too difficult. We organised it so the fish cook cooked the prawns in the wood oven where we cook most of the restaurant’s seafood, while the cold larder chef prepared the tuna. Light, with wonderful delicate flavours, the dish was an outstanding success and we can now never consider taking it off the menu.


Quantity Ingredient
500g sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna loin

Wasabi custard

Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons dashi powder
180ml water
3 gelatine leaves
125ml mirin
120ml pouring cream
3 egg yolks
55g wasabi
canola oil spray
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 lemon, juiced

Prawns and salad

Quantity Ingredient
250ml Rice wine pickle
1/2 small daikon radish, julienned
2 1/2 tablespoons julienned young ginger
300ml Japanese dressing, omitting spring onions and tobiko
4 spring onion stalks, green part only, finely julienned
2 tablespoons grated young ginger
3 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
1 bunch coriander, leaves chopped
100ml sesame oil
16 extra-large green tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
1 small red onion, finely sliced
2 spring onion stalks, white part only, finely sliced on the angle
additional sesame oil, to serve


  1. Remove the skin and bloodline from the tuna. Cut the tuna loin into strips about 5 cm square and round off the edges to make a neat, cylindrical shape. Cut 3 layers of plastic wrap twice the length of the fish and press on top of each other on a work surface. Roll the fish up as tightly as you can and put it in the freezer to firm so it is easier to slice.
  2. To make the custard, combine the dashi and water and bring to the boil. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften, squeeze to drain and add to the dashi stock. Stir until the gelatine dissolves. Pass through a sieve and add the mirin.
  3. In a separate saucepan, boil the cream gently over a low heat. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add the boiling cream. Return this mixture to the pan and gently warm until the mixture begins to thicken and will coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat, add the wasabi and combine with the dashi stock.
  4. Put the custard mixture over ice to cool, stirring occasionally so the gelatine sets evenly. Spray 4 dariole moulds lightly with canola oil spray. Place a teaspoon of spring onions in each mould and pour the setting wasabi custard over the top to about 2 cm high. Tap the moulds firmly on your work surface to ensure the custard sets evenly.
  5. To make the salad, bring the rice wine pickle to the boil and pour over the daikon and ginger julienne in separate bowls. Marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, or for as long as you can.
  6. Prepare the dressing and chill until required. Marinate the green spring onions with a little of the dressing – this will help the onions break down and make them easier to arrange.
  7. Combine the grated ginger, chillies, garlic and coriander leaves. Add sesame oil, pour over the prawns and leave to marinate in the refrigerator.
  8. Remove the tuna from the freezer. Using a very sharp knife slice into 2–3 mm thick round slices and arrange flat on the serving plates in a neat overlapping fashion until you have covered the whole plate.
  9. Dip the set moulds of wasabi custard in some boiling water for 5 seconds then invert onto the tuna plates. Arrange the red onion tightly around the custard, then do the same with the daikon and ginger, as neatly as possible. Take the julienned green spring onion, drain of excess dressing and shape on top of the custard in a neat circular fashion. Arrange the white spring onion slices on top.
  10. Heat a little of the sesame oil marinade in a very hot pan and cook the prawns for about 30 seconds on each side until they are golden-brown. Drain on paper towels. Arrange 4 prawns on each plate around the custard and salad, dress the whole plate with the Japanese dressing and drizzle a little extra sesame oil over the top.

Chef’s note

  • Young ginger is only available for a short period of the year, between December and February. It has a unique, very refined flavour and virtually no skin. It is advisable to buy it in large quantities to pickle, so it will last throughout the year.
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