Each week Greg Bruce challenges a chef to make him lunch in less than 10 minutes.

Sachie Nomura's home is a delightful high-ceilinged, light-filled character apartment in Parnell's famed Axis building, just upstairs from her acclaimed cooking school. This pleasant lifestyle is the result of a journey that started the day when two people close to colleagues of hers died of heart attacks on the same day.

She rethought her life that day, six years ago - what she wanted to do - then drew a plan for how to achieve it on a board, and now she's achieved it.

"A lot of people have got a dream," she said, "but a lot of people don't take action."

It's unlikely any part of her own dream involved making lunch for a hungry journalist, but then dreams are always fantastically incomplete pictures of real life.


Nomura was born in Japan, but for lunch she was planning to cook me a Hawaiian dish called poke (pronounced poh-kay), which is currently enjoying extreme popularity in the United States.

"Really simple, nice and funky," is how she described the dish. She started chopping the tuna, but wasn't happy with the knife, so she got another one, but she wasn't happy with that one either. She had pre-cooked some rice, but said you could also freeze rice and just reheat it.

She didn't talk much while she was cooking, nor did she do much cooking. She fried an omelette, then bunged it in with the pre-cooked rice and the other ingredients: avocado, tuna marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce, seaweed, some red fish egg stuff, and chilli sauce.

It did look simple, even to me, and she offered to teach me how to make it - "You're not going to fail," she said - but I said no. Cooking for the scrutiny of others is a mug's game.

Neither Nomura nor her PR representative shared the dish with me, so I sat awkwardly between them, chewing on saucy tuna, three separate liquids no doubt congealing in my beard for their viewing pleasure.

Feeling the pressure to say something, I said, "It's a really nice blend of textures. You've got the tuna with a bit of bite to it, the softness of the avocado, then the chilli gives it a bit of heat. There's a lot going on in there for not many ingredients, which is, I think, key.

"When I think about cooking," I said, "that's what I want, I want to not have to deal with many ingredients but to get a lot of flavour and enjoyment out of it."

This was mostly silence-filling nonsense, based on words I thought sounded chef-like, culminating in a completely disingenuous sentence: "I almost never think about cooking and when I do I only ever think about one dish, which is pre-made ravioli."


Still, if there was just one dish from this series I was going to attempt (and there won't be), it would be this one.

Sachie Nomura's scores (out of five):
Quality of dreams: 3.5
Quality of apartment: 4.5
Amount of cooking: 1.5

Recipe: Sachie's Poke

Sachie Nomura's tuna poke. Photo / Doug Sherring
Sachie Nomura's tuna poke. Photo / Doug Sherring

1 portion

Marinated tuna:
60g fresh tuna, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp sesame oil

1. Marinate tuna in a small bowl and set on the side

Egg thread:
1/2 egg, beaten
1 tsp oil

1. Heat up a small frying pan and add oil.
2. Pour the egg into the pan, and make a thin omelet.
3. Remove to a chopping board and roll up the egg so it looks like a pipe. Cut into very thin slice-like threads.

Sushi rice:
75g cooked rice
1 1/2 tsp sushi vinegar

1. Warm up the rice and mix with sushi vinegar.

1/4 avocado, chopped
1 Tbsp red tobiko
Spring onion, julienne
Shredded seaweed
Chili sauce

1. To assemble, put a ring mould in a middle of a plate
2. Stuff sushi rice in the mould, and add egg thread, avocado and tuna
3. Remove the ring gently and garnish with tobiko, spring onion, seaweed and chili sauce