Tuna Tataki

Tuna Tataki

First of all, we didn’t ever really eat fish in my family. If we did, it was covered in cheese and breadcrumbs and called Tuna Casserole… It bore no relation to actual fish, and aside from Friday night Fish & Chips, was as close as we got to be pescetarians. Not one of the better creations we got to eat, but it was normally paired along side macaroni cheese on a lazy night when Mum didn’t really feel like cooking… so i’ll let her off the hook this time.

So… that fact established… Fish is a kind of new thing for me, raw fish especially so. Sharon however, is at the opposite end of the spectrum. She spent a couple of years in Japan and came back raving about how great the sushi and sashimi was there, and now frequently bemoans the paltry variety of seafood available in Australia.

I of course, being the patriot that I am, stand up for our fine fish stocks and ocean life, saying that we have plenty of things of the sea that we could be eating if we so desired… but the reality of the matter is that she’s right (just don’t tell her that… we’ll see how long she takes to read this and find out). The sushi in Australia, or Perth more specifically, can in no way be compared to that of Japan. Half of the things they eat on a regular basis I have never heard of, and would not be able to identify if they sitting right in front of me.

Recently I’ve begun to develop a taste for good fish though… taking the philosophy that if any kind of produce is of a high enough quality, it should be able to be eaten on it’s own with only the most basic of cooking or flavouring. It works for wagyu carpaccio, so why not fish ? I’m also not the kind of person to not try something on account of it being strange or different, so I suppose turning into a raw fish eater was inevitable.

So a little research into top quality sushi reveals there is a lot to know about Tuna. Firstly, it should not come in a can (in case you were wondering), secondly there are many grades of Tuna. Only the top grades of tuna are good enough to be called “sashimi grade”, and those towards the bottom are often called “cat food”.

So imagine our delight when we found out that a Japanese fish supplier would be opening up shop just down the road from us, serving up a large range of… sashimi grade tuna !
Fish Japan is the latest addition to the budding gourmet hot spot that is Dog Swamp Shopping Centre in Yokine. It has a small range of sushi and sashimi, but some excellent quality fish, from which I was able to procure two lovely big chunks of high grade sashimi tuna for the dish I have taken so long to tell you about… Tuna Tataki.

So… take one piece of excellent sashimi grade tuna, dip it in soy sauce, smother it all over with wasabi paste, and then cover it entirely with sesame seeds. Feel free to add a little sesame oil to the soy sauce for a bit more sesame goodness.

Sashimi grade tuna Tuna Tataki - rolled and ready

Once covered in sesame seeds, heat a pan with a little oil (sesame, olive) until it’s really hot (almost smoking), and then very quickly sear the tuna all over. My piece was cut into a thick rectangular block, so I simply left it on each side for 10 – 20 seconds before turning it over until it was done. Then out of the pan, and with a sharp/thin knife, try and elegantly slice your tuna into tasty little pieces.

I served mine very simply with sushi rice that Sharon prepared old school style (in a wooden bowl with a fan)… but you could quite easy knock together a simple dipping sauce of soy and wasabi and whatever else you have on hand if you so desire. It’s not the most “authentic” way to appreciate sashimi of course, but for a pleb like me, it was a great way of preparing the fish where I could get the full flavour and texture in it’s most raw form, whilst retaining a little Western respectability on the outside.

So put those cans back on the shelves, head out of the cat food isle, into the fish shop, and introduce yourself to good quality sashimi today ! (or tomorrow… I’m not pushy).

17 thoughts on “Tuna Tataki”

  1. OMGs…. haha first my sister took a trip to Australia for her honeymoon like 2 or 3 years ago… and there were a few pictures in there that I was like OMG I want to go to Australia to eat that. And it was all seafood items. Not raw though. Ah well. (Giant giant giant prawns or whatever it’s called over there because prawns here mean huge while somewhere I’ve been prawns means small, huge scallops, oh my. I’m hungry again.)

    Second… haha dog swamp shopping centre is a funny name but awesome… I don’t know where to go for sushi grade tuna here. Well, I do sort of but it’s not that close. Actually someone else just posted about tuna yesterday, have a look http://groceryguy.blogspot.com/2007/01/sunshine-mart-dinner-explosion.html

    Third… I didn’t know tataki had wasabi on it, pretty cool. Yumm. Great pictures… surprised Sharon made the rice the authentic way with a fan… it gets so tiring, no?

  2. does the ‘choice’ between sesame and olive oil make a difference? would sesame make it too strong a taste, or would olive make it a completely different one?

    sorry to be a pain – im just intrigued – looks good, and i want to try it out!

  3. Hey Yvo, prawns over here do grow big… but I think throwing them on the bbq is about as far as a lot of Australian’s delve into the world of seafood… and dog swamp is indeed funny… I’ll have to look up how it got that name… The sad tale of some unfortunate dog no doubt.

    Steve: drop slip :)

    Dtm: We’ll convert her yet !

    Michaela: I guess it all comes down to how much you like sesame. Considering the entire thing is coated in sesame seeds though, I don’t think it will effect that flavour much at all, and really comes down to what you’ve got on hand. Give it a try :)

  4. Had seen the sign they have outside near the bus stop but never had a chance to go in and have a look (usually closed by the time I decide to stop at Ang’s for tea). Now I know where else to get some fishy goodness :)

    What are the prices like?

  5. I don’t want to be mean to the Japanese, but when you said Sharon was bemoaning the variety of seafood available in Australia compared to Japan, perhaps we should think about why that’s so. It was reported in the papers last year that the Japanese had been plundering our very own southern bluefin tuna stocks that are subject to a strict quota. How did they get around that? They said just trust us, you won’t need to put an observer on the boat. If every nation on earth behaved like the Japanese or indeed liked fish as much as they do, there wouldn’t be any wild fish left.

  6. Hey Edward, sounds like you’re got trouble on your hands when that one gets big enough to eat you into debt… something my brothers and I were adept at in our younger days too. The tuna was around $9 or so for the piece you see on the cutting board… which weighed perhaps around 200gm’s so still not cheap… but proximity and the option of getting it in large pieces still works for me.

    Cin, if I had been thinking enough I would have probably knocked up a little ponzu and eaten it with that… but I’d been hankering to make this tataki for a while…

    Jean: yeh it’s a nice little shop. Do you mean Ang’s Malaysian ? Is that place good ? It’s always been shut every time I’ve thought about going, which admittedly hasn’t been often.

    Neil: Interesting point, although I think the question is more about what people want to eat than to what extent a particular country raids the worlds fish stocks. I have wondered many times why we don’t have a fish market in Perth of any size or variety, it’s certainly not from lack of availability, but then looking at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, I started to realise we simple don’t value our seafood as much as they do. Still, you make a very valid point.

  7. Ang’s is pretty good – their crispy chicken is great (if consumed almost immediately) and their Hokkien noodle soup is pretty close to the real thing in Penang.

    They’re usually closed Sundays but operate on a split during the week,

  8. Hey Matt, thanks for the heads up on a good fish shop close by. It is so hard to get decent, fresh, sashimi grade seafood here in Perth. So exasperating!

    My local fish shop at Mirrabooka has a fair variety of fish and seafood, but certainly not sashimi grade.

  9. Hi Matt. Nice one!!! You can’t go wrong with a fine piece of sashimi. The flavours are so clean. I’ve always believed that there was something spiritual about eating this type of Japanese food. Anyway, just to let you know I’ve been reading your blog for a while, (ok..a few months) and I really enjoy it. You’re quite entertaining and informative. I just started my own food blog/website. http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com Check it out and would appreciate the feed back if you had the time. Cheers. Pete

  10. Sigh, our family came to Australia (Canberra) after four years in Japan, and reading this recipe made me so nostalgic for Japan. We have not eaten much raw fish since our arrival here as I am too much a worrier that it won’t be really fresh and safe to eat. Tuna or salmon in Japan was caught in the morning and sold by the end of the day. We had sashimi several times a week and the cost hardly put a dent in our wallets. Here, I spend more on fish than on meat (we’re a family of five with three teen-aged boys), and usually only my husband and I eat the fish (enough for three meals) compared to the meat (enough for five meals for four persons)…maybe fish is cheaper around the coasts, but inland, it’s worth its weight in gold! We like sashimi with rice, a bit of soya and wasabi dipping sauce, and tucked into a sheet of Korean (not Japanese) dry seaweed. Korean seaweed is a bit oily and salty – very good with fish and rice.

  11. Peggy, the bigger fishmonger at the Belconnen fishmarkets is a reasonably reliable choice for sashimi grade tuna, kingfish and a few other treats (like sea urchins, turban shells, decent clams, etc). I’m a fussy buyer (lived in Japan in 1997 and 1998) and if I’m not convinced by the shine and texture of the sashimi material, I skip it until there’s something good enough. They’ve also been fine to fillet good boat-fresh gear for me at times that I’ll sort out myself into sashimi, sushi, carpaccio or acid-cured fish dishes.

  12. yo

    Made this on sunday arvo for lunch with a couple sashimi grade tuna steaks we found at dianella plaza fish monger.

    we instead covered the steak with ground pepper. and made a dipping sauce out of peanut oil, sesame oil, light soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

    sensational. however only thing i wish to point out is that you do need to sear it and not cook it. we let it stay a little too long on one of the steaks and it became more flaky and less steaky.



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