If you asked the world’s top chefs the name an Australian chef, then Tetsuya Wakuda’s name is probably the first one mentioned. So I thought carefully about whether to put this post on my tastetravel blog as it concentrates on food and travel all over the world or post it here on my little homely Tasmanian blog. But it did take place in Tasmania and he used the famous produce the Southern Rock Lobster which is a premier Tasmanian product.
The Japanese chef who has adopted Australia as his home – and in fact trained to become a chef here, is very well-known to Tasmania. He is reputed to visit often to look for wonderful food sources and to enjoy the relaxed life when he needs a break. The Wooden Boat Centre in Tasmania is currently constructing a 38 foot motor sailer in Huon Pine and Celery-Top designed by Naval Architect, Mike Hunn for Tetsuya Wakuda and no doubt when it is ready he will be considered an honorary Tasmanian.
So it is fitting that Tetsuya was invited to give a cooking class at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival and concentrated on lobsters. The fish and chips – well we ate them whilst waiting for the demo to begin. They came from the nearby Fish Frenzy restaurant, they prepare fillet the fish as the order comes in. That is the way we like it!
Only in Tasmania would you be able to play with so many live lobsters. The co-host of the presentation was Rodney Treloggen, Chief Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen’s Association. It is a coincidence that we live in Treloggen Drive in Binalong Bay. The Treloggens were on the local council (back in the 50’s) and applied for the first subdivision in Binalong Bay. Rodney Treloggen was a competent MC, adding useful information about the Southern Rock Lobsters between Tetsuya’s demonstrations.
The crowd was surprised when Tetsuya began to cook the live lobsters without first attempting to put them to sleep. I know the Japanese prize freshness in their seafood but it was disconcerting for most to watch the lobsters legs waving at us as they were placed on the hot grill. Tetsuya was careful to explain that you don’t keep turning them over, just watch until all the meat looks cooked through by the heat under the shells.
Another way he prepared them was to hold the tail in boiling water for about 1 minute and then plunge into icy water. The lobster is not even par cooked! Tetsuya then prized the barely cooked meat out by cutting along both sides of the tail. This meat he put aside to later make a mousse in a Thermomix.
We were staying with friends in Hobart who are both food lovers and came with us to the demonstration. And we had come prepared with lobster we had caught in our pot in Binalong Bay.
Taking one of the recipes very seriously I wrote down the ingredients and back at our friends home we followed the steps. First we halved our lobster, sat it in a baking tray and filled it half way with boiling water, and exactly following Tetsuya, put it in a hot oven until the flesh turned white. The only point of difference was that our lobster did not feel any pain. We had put it to sleep.
When it cooled down we removed and sliced the cooked flesh and replaced the meat in the shells. We cut the spring onions. A tip from Tetsuya worth noting and I will do in future is to prepare the onions early (he finely slices them) soaks in icy cold water so they curl. Next we added finely sliced fresh ginger, chopped garlic that was all placed on top as in the picture.
The sauce – put soy sauce, sugar and mirin (Japanese rice wine) in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave. At same time in a small saucepan on the stove we heated grape seed oil. Poured over the hot soy mixture first and then the hot oil that made the whole dish sizzling. I did not look at my notes and we forgot the orange zest but that is for next time also. I immodestly tell you we all thought it wonderful and we will be making it again very soon.
We feasted that night – after the lobster we had our Striped Trumpeter caught by our fishing mate in Bicheno. This was not a Tetsuya recipe but an Indian style paste we made up and smeared over the top and inside.
If you would like some more information about the preparation and recipes for rock lobsters here is the recipe page on the website of Australian Southern Rock Lobster.
The visit was twofold for them to share their skill and visit the source of the grain/seed that is grown and sent to the Shiratori Flour Mills in Japan.
A lonely potted plant at the side of the stage – it is the revered and quite pretty (Soba)Buckwheat plant. The only thing missing was the opportunity to slurp on some buckwheat noodles.