It may look like a light dish, but this fresh kingfish number packs the big guns when it comes to flavour. Hartsyard introduced it to the menu in spring 2020, and it fast became one of the Newtown restaurant’s most popular orders.

“It’s really beautiful,” says Dorothy Lee, the restaurant’s co-owner and a chef herself. “It’s basically based on a ceviche but a bit fresher … the dashi sauce just gives it a little bit more umami-ness, and then the jalapeno and the cucumber give it the freshness.”

At Hartsyard the chefs use kingfish, but if you fancy trying this at home you could also sub in some snapper.

“Kingfish is a little bit oilier, so the fat from it actually translates quite well with the spicy dressing,” Lee says.

The final touch is a garnish of nasturtium leaves. If you can’t find these growing wild, they should be in your local specialty supermarket. Failing that, Lee recommends marjoram as an alternative.

The dish is matched with what Lee’s calling a DJ Pepino. That’s Don Julio Blanco tequila with Fever-Tree cucumber tonic water. Like the kingfish, it features cucumber – both in the tonic and as a garnish – which adds a bright botanical note

“I like savoury drinks, so I often add cucumber to my gin and tonics,” Lee says. Then there’s a crack of black pepper for some extra bite.

The Don Julio gets a good workout at Hartsyard because it’s the most versatile tequila the restaurant has, being a smooth yet citrusy expression.

“With any spicy dish, I immediately think about tequila,” Lee says, “and also anything tropical. We always mix the Don Julio tequila with pineapple, passionfruit, mango and those kind of ingredients to go with raw fish. And we actually infuse some jalapeno with it to make our basic Margarita. If people want to try that at home, you just put one jalapeno in a full bottle for three days. It adds a really nice hint of spice.”

DJ Pepino
Makes 1 serving. Approx. 1 standard drink

Ingredients
30ml Don Julio Blanco Tequila
150ml Fever-Tree cucumber tonic water
1 slice of telegraph cucumber and crack of black pepper to garnish

Method
Pour Don Julio tequila and Fever-Tree cucumber tonic water into a glass with ice. Garnish with cucumber and a crack of black pepper.

Kingfish ceviche with cucumber-dashi dressing
Serves 4–6
Preparation time: approx. 1 hour

Ingredients
Half a kingfish fillet (approx. 600g)
Lime juice, to taste
2 finger limes (approx. 25g)
10g coriander leaves, chopped
Lime zest, to garnish
10 nasturtium leaves, to garnish

Cucumber-dashi dressing
3 telegraph cucumbers
1 raw garlic clove
50ml dashi extract
Rice-wine vinegar, to taste

Curing mix
200g sugar
200g fine salt

Method
Start with the dressing. Cut two cucumbers into cubes and blend along with garlic in a food blender. Fine strain the resulting juice (it helps to strain with cheesecloth to obtain a clarified juice, but it’s also okay to use the blended juice on its own). After the juice is strained, season with dashi liquid (it’s called “dashi extract” and can be found in Asian grocery stores) and a little rice-wine vinegar and it’s ready for seasoning the kingfish.

Make the curing mix by combining both the sugar and salt, and mixing well. Cure the kingfish fillet in the curing mix for 1 hour. Wash off the curing mix under cold water then dry with paper towel. Dice the fish into 1cm cubes and season with lime juice (to taste; at least half a lime), finger lime (25g), coriander leaves and cucumber-dashi dressing.

Shave the remaining telegraph cucumber on a mandolin and place into ice-water to get it crunchy. Set aside for a garnish.

To serve, place seasoned kingfish into a bowl and lay cucumbers on top. Garnish with lime zest and nasturtium leaves, and drizzle a little more dressing on top.

This story was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Don Julio.