Sweet Potato Cake, Radish Pickles
Recipe from Nathan’s 2023 cookbook, ‘Fish for Dinner’
“Not for a second do I think this is an authentic Japanese recipe. I’d say it’s inspired by flavours that I enjoy eating and I love the simplicity, but also technicality of the method to get it cooked correctly. I’ve used bass here as 1 think it has that right level of fattiness and density that doesn’t cook too quickly, allowing the fish to glaze correctly.” – Nathan
grey mullet, gurnard, bream, mackerel, searobin, red snapper
4 x 180-200g (6¼-7oz) bass fillet portions, descaled and pin-boned
For the pickled radishes
16 red breakfast radishes. tops removed
200g (7oz) white radish (mouli), peeled
2 banana shallots
2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50g (1¾oz) fresh ginger, roughly sliced
3 star anise
100ml (3½fl oz) mirin
100ml (3½fl oz) rice wine vinegar
100ml (3½fl oz) water
100g (3½/oz) caster (superfine) sugar
For the teriyaki sauce/marinade/glaze
300ml (10½fl oz) water
3 tablespoons pineapple juice
25g (1oz) dark brown sugar
100ml (3½f1 oz) dark soy sauce
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50g (1¾0z) pickled Japanese sushi ginger
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
For the sweet potato cake
100g (3½0z) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
300g (10½oz) baked sweet potato, mashed
100ml (3½fl oz) natural (plain) full-fat yogurt
4 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced into rounds
3 teaspoons sesame seeds
40g (1½0) chopped pickled ginger
2 large eggs, separated, plus 1 extra egg yolk
A drizzle of olive oil
4 spring onions (scallions), trimmed, halved across and shredded lengthways
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
2 limes, halved
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N.B. You will need to cook the baked sweet potato in advance.
First pickle the radishes. Cut the radishes and shallots into wafer-thin slices with a mandolin and then place in a large bowl with the Szechuan pepper, ginger, garlic and star anise. Place the mirin, wine vinegar, measured water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring continuously. Simmer for 1 minute and then pour this pickling liquor over the radishes and season with salt. Make sure everything is submerged, then set aside until cool. If you are making the pickled radishes in advance, transfer them to a clean container, seal and leave in the fridge until needed. Stored in a sterilized jar in the fridge, they will keep for a month.
Next make the teriyaki sauce. Place the measured water in a pan with the pineapple juice, sugar, soy, garlic, ginger, mirin and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cook gently for 5 minutes and then remove 6 tablespoons and place in a shallow bowl for marinating the bass. Continue to cook down what remains in the pan until it is syrupy, then remove from the heat and set aside.
To marinate the bass, slice each fillet in half widthways so you have 8 pieces of fish, then mix these into the teriyaki and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
To make the batter for the sweet potato cakes, sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl and mix in the cooked sweet potato, yogut, spring onions (scallions), sesame seeds, ginger and egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm, then fold them through the batter mix.
You will need to cook the sweet potato cakes in batches. Heat a drizzle of olive ool in a non-stick frying pan. When it is hot, spoon in tablespoons of sweet potato batter, leaving space between as they will grow slightly and you don’t really want them to stick together. Cook for 1 minute until golden and then flip them over to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Pile them up on top of each other when they are cooked and cover while you cook the rest; this way they will stay warm. You should have enough mix for 8 cakes.
Light your barbecue (grill) around 30 minutes before you are planning to start cooking. Take 8 metal skewers and insert 1 into each portion of marinated bass. Set up a tray to the side of your barbecue that you can lean the skewers against while brushing with marinade and cooking/ turning. Place the fish on the barbecue, skin-side down, and cook for 1 minute, then turn it, brush it lightly with some reduced marinade and cook for a further minute on the flesh side. Repeat this process of brushing and turning twice more, so the total cooking time will be around 6 minutes. When the fish is cooked, give it all a final brush with the marinade and then remove from the skewers to serve. If you don’t have the barbecue set up or the time to do it, this same process will work under a preheated hot grill, without the skewers, on a grill tray. The cooking method, turning and brushing, is the same.
Lay 2 sweet potato cakes on each plate and top with drained pickled radishes. Add the bass, garnished with shredded spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with halves of lime.