You dice sashimi-grade, raw tuna and salmon, and do the same with an avocado. Then mix sesame oil, salt, pepper, lime juice and soy sauce in a bowl, and stir in the fish and avocado cubes. Leave it to marinade, and cut a peeled cucumber in half lengthways and remove the seeds by running a spoon down the middle. Blitz the chopped cucumber flesh with chicken stock, cream, wasabi, Worcester sauce and Tabasco, then strain and chill.
You plate the dish by putting a chef’s ring (oiled on the inside) in the middle of a soup bowl, and fill with layers of marinated salmon, tuna and avocado. Take off the ring, pour the chilled soup round the tartare tower, and garnish with a sprig of chervil and a few salmon eggs.
And here was the problem. I couldn’t get salmon eggs anywhere in London. Every shop had either sold out, or didn’t know what I was talking about. After a few hours traipsing around, I realised I had more chance of getting my hands on a fucking Dodo egg.
The last place I tried was a Japanese fishmonger called Atari-Ya hidden away in the suburbs of West Acton. They didn’t have any salmon eggs either, so fobbed me off with red and green tobiko, or flying fish roe. I bought a chiller bag, and a thermos flask to carry the soup in, and thought about the next day. I practised the dish a few times and went to bed.
The Masterchef narrator’s husky voice begins...
“After everything he’s learned, can Lennie deliver a faultless dish? He’s attempted a delicate combination of tuna tartare with a cucumber and wasabi soup...”
Toad destroys my tower like a spiteful child in a sandpit. The plate looks a fucking mess. He picks up a spoonful and sniffs the raw fish before sticking it in his gob.
“I think your flavours are good. You’ve got the rich oiliness of the fish; you’ve got the sweetness of the soup...”
Egg holds up a napkin to stop soup dripping down his Armani.
“That is deep! It’s well seasoned - both the salmon and the tuna are cooked perfectly...”
What would I do? Tell the ignorant bastard the fish was raw?
The alarm clock went off and I jumped out of bed.
:: This blog eventually became a bestselling book, called Down And Out In Padstow And London by Alex Watts, about my disastrous attempt to train as a chef, including stints at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck and Rick Stein's kitchens in Padstow. You might like it if you're a foodie or have ever entertained the ridiculous idea of entering the padded asylum of professional cooking. It's here on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle book if you want a read...