Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • Tetsuya’s signature Confit of Ocean Trout is a produce driven dish that showcased our seafood in a unique way to the world, receiving international recognition.
  • Tetsuya Wakuda successfully developed, and introduced, a sophisticated fusion of French techniques and Japanese flavours to the Australian palate.
  • This dish epitomised the sense of freedom now attributed to Modern Australian Cuisine.
  • The acclaimed cuisine at Sepia, is a legacy of Tetsuya’s successful work.

by Dane Richards

In 1992, Tetsuya Wakuda – who would later become acknowledged as one of our greatest chefs – showcased the pristine beauty of ocean trout farmed from Tasmania in such a graceful way, that it was destined to become not only his restaurant’s signature dish, but one of the most photographed dishes in this country’s history.

With so many diners from both home and abroad keen to experience this exquisite dish slow cooked in olive oil, garnished with a delicate crust of kombu, and the roe of the ocean trout, it became impossible to remove it from the menu.

It’s all about the produce

Peter and Una Rockliff started farming ocean trout in 1991, in Macquarie Harbour on the remote South-west coast of Tasmania, after first dabbling in aquaculture with salmon. It was this salmon Tetsuya originally considered as the first option for the dish, until supply at that time dictated otherwise.

Whilst the ethics of farmed fishing is constantly open to criticism, both the location (where the wilderness waters of the Franklin-Gordon Rivers meets the Great Southern Ocean), and the rigid sustainability practices employed by Petuna, provided a counter argument; by carefully minimising the environmental impact, whilst producing seafood that was simply without peer. Tetsuya innovatively utilised low intervention techniques that would deliver both its sublime texture and stunning flavour.

A place (and plate) in history

Why was this dish so profound in influencing our cuisine?

Firstly, consider the context; twenty four years ago it signalled to the world that Australian cuisine had not only discovered a new level of refinement, but was bold enough to combine both French and Japanese techniques. That sense of freedom allowed Tetsuya to produce a dish that not only proudly showcased Australian produce, but was undeniably world class.

Around the same time Neil Perry was following his own unique path at Rockpool, and history would show that both significantly influenced Australian cuisine in their own ways. In future articles, we intend to feature produce driven dishes that significantly changed how we traditionally defined “Aussie cuisine”.

Next Dish: Neil Perry’s Stir Fried Spanner Crab Omelette