Make my lunch: Nic Watt's Kingfish Tiradito

By Greg Bruce

Greg Bruce issues Nic Watt the 10-minute challenge.

Last week, my lunch was made by Al Brown, that earthy, fishy, Kiwi everyman, and this week - not totally coincidentally - it was made by that partially Australian genius of Japanese precision, Nic Watt.

At every opportunity, I attempted to provoke Watt with comments about how "Al" - as I seemed to feel entitled to call him after we had spent 39 minutes together - had done things.

Al used white bread, I told him. Al didn't finish in time but pretended he did, I told him.

When Watt finished preparing my lunch of kingfish sashimi tiradito in 7 minutes, 26 seconds, nearly three minutes ahead of Brown's own time, he said, delightedly, "I'm going to text Al!"

But hang on just a sec there, Nic. If I've learned anything in the two weeks I've been writing this column, it's that the number 10 means different things to different chefs.

Watt's fish was pre-filleted. He admitted that filleting would have added another five minutes to his time. Furthermore, his liquids had already been poured into bowls, and had possibly also already been infused with other liquids.

These acts of economy, subtle but pernicious, like creeping drug cheatery, have to be called out and, in this column, they will be.

Watt says that a big part of what he's trying to produce at True Food & Yoga, his impressive new restaurant on Tamaki Drive, is food that's nutrient dense: "We're not padding it out with a big slab of bread or a big bowl of rice," he said. This was a bit of a slap in the face for Al Brown who, one week earlier, had proudly served me a big slab of bread.

Tiradito is a Peruvian-Japanese dish, in which comparatively thick-cut fish - in this case kingfish - is scattered boldly about the plate, making it considerably more rugged in appearance than your traditional Japanese sashimi, with its immaculate, mathematical accuracy.

Around and on the kingfish, Watt introduced some chilli, five liquids - one of which was infused with three additional flavours - some thin-cut vegetables, grapefruit and grated apple. There was soy sauce for richness, ponzu for sharpness and olive oil "just to hold it on the palate".

I looked at the finished plate and thought, "That's going to make a good starter," and then we shared it.

Watt and I took our first bites of the tiradito together. "What do you think?" he asked. "Fresh?"

"Really fresh!" I said, copping first the zing of the grapefruit, the zest of the apple, then the rich fish and assorted sauces, registering the whole as a summery pleasure, and hoping he wouldn't eat any more.

He said: "It's very clean, very fresh - your mouth is washed with the vinegars, the acid - so your mouth is left ideally wanting more."

My mouth wanted more. It knew it wasn't coming.

Oh, pleasure! So brief.

Nic Watt's kingfish tiradito, apple, grapefruit, radish and chilli recipe

Kingfish tiradito, apple, grapefruit, radish and chilli. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kingfish tiradito, apple, grapefruit, radish and chilli. Photo / Brett Phibbs

• Apple ponzu dressing
• Half a green apple (coarsely grated)
• Half a grapefruit (juice and zest)
• 1 Tbsp gluten-free soy
• 2 Tbsp ponzu
• 2 Tbsp sushi vinegar
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• Combine all of the above ingredients to form a loose dressing.
• 70g sliced kingfish (7 slices of 10g)
• 1 red radish, sliced
• Half a Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
• 1 small floret of cauliflower, thinly sliced
• 1 tsp red chilli, diced
• 7 ruby grapefruit segments
• Mint tips
• Coriander
• Vietnamese mint

To serve

Arrange the kingfish slices on your plate in a tossed fashion.

Spoon the dressing on to each piece of sliced fish.

Build and layer the radish, cucumber, cauliflower, chili and grapefruit over the fish.

Finish with the fresh sprigs of herbs and build it organically - as if looking into a wild garden.

Nic Watt's scores (out of five)

Quality of food: 5
Quantity of food: 0.5
Level of difficulty: 1.5
Nutrient density: 4.5
Provision of booze (Y/N): N
Slap In The Face For Al Brown bonus (Y/N): Y

- Canvas

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