fine food - Martin Benn
Written by Oryx
Martin Benn began his career as a chef at the Oak Room in London, learning French gastronomy under Chef Michel Lorain.
From there he worked at The Landmark London and later The Criterion, where he came under the tutelage of Chef Marco Pierre White. Moving to Australia in 1996, Benn spent two years at Sydney’s Forty-One Restaurant as Sous Chef. He later gained a place at Tetsuya’s, becoming Head Chef at the age of 25. In 2004, Martin joined the Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay as Executive Chef. Martin opened Sepia Restaurant in 2009, collaborating with George Costi to supply the restaurant with the best-quality seafood available.
Since opening, Sepia has gone on to become one of Australia’s most awarded restaurants: it has maintained the highest rating of Three Chef Hats for six consecutive years and holds the highest score of 19 out of a possible 20 points for two consecutive years.
Tiger Prawn Skin with Sea Vegetables and Citrus Dashi
Tiger Prawn Skin
- 8 tiger prawns (size U8)
- 8 vacuum bags (size 165 x 220mm)
Remove the head and peel the shell from the tiger prawns. Discard shells or set aside for another use. Place the prawn onto a board with the leg side facing upwards.
Using a sharp knife, cut down the belly of the prawn from head to tail until you get to the intestinal tract. Pick out the intestinal tract. The prawn should look like it has been butterflied open.
Score the prawn meat and then place into a vacuum bag. Seal on a full vacuum.
Using a meat tenderiser or a rolling pin, firmly flatten the prawns on the flesh side only. Do not flatten the skin side otherwise it will break the tiger prawn pattern that the prawn naturally gives.
Use a rolling pin to roll the prawn very thin, until the prawn meat fills the entire bag. Ensure the prawn meat is pushed evenly into the corners. (This is very important otherwise the sheet will not be thin enough.) Repeat with the remaining prawns.
Place the prawn sheets in a single layer onto a steamer tray and steam at 63°C for five minutes. Refresh the prawn sheets in iced water until required.
To warm, place the sheets into a steamer at 50°C. Once warmed, cut all four sides of the vacuum bags and remove the prawn sheet. Keep warm.
- 1 litre water
- 100g dried shiitake mushrooms
- 6cm stick kombu
- 30g bonito flakes (Katsuobushi)
- 100g Tosa soy sauce
- 50g mirin
- 40ml ponzu vinegar
Place the mushrooms in a container along with 500ml of the water and cover. Leave at room temperature for 12 hours.
Place the kombu and the remaining 500ml of water in a container and cover with a lid. Leave at room temperature for 12 hours. Once the time has elapsed, pour the kombu water with the kombu into a pot and heat to 60°C. Hold the temperature for one hour.
Pour the shiitake mushrooms and the water into the kombu water. Bring the kombu and shiitake mushroom stock to about 85°C and then add in the bonito flakes. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave to steep for five minutes.
Pass the entire stock through filter paper. Season the stock with the soy, mirin, and ponzu. Keep warm.
To finish the dish
- 24 stems samphire
- 50g hijiki
- 32 leaves of sea parsley
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp nori powder
Place the prawn skins into the base of each serving bowl. Place the sea vegetables into the dish, scattering on and around the prawn skins.
Warm the citrus dashi, and finish with a little fresh lemon zest. Pour over the prawn skins, and finish with a pinch of nori powder. Serve immediately.