‘The Home Chef’ is a series that uncovers closely guarded recipes of the city’s most notable chefs, so that you, amateur home-cook, can, too, recreate restaurant-grade meals in the comforts of your own kitchen. Makeshift tea-towel aprons at the ready. A dear friend (or furry pup!) as the designated taste-tester. Served with a sweet chef’s kiss, naturally. Bon appétit!
No doubt you’re already familiar with Zuma; the sleek Japanese eatery housed atop the moneyed atriums of Landmark, self-proclaimed as the destination to be for an evening of “contemporary Japanese cuisine.” Contemporary, in a sense of the venue’s warm wood tones and natural stone slabs that fill the space and its photogenic plates, but at the centre of it all, Zuma, like so many modern, Japanese-adjacent spots that made its claim to fame during the early 00s era (i.e. Nobu), is a gesture towards the buzzy, boisterous atmosphere of Japan’s traditional izakayas, each with its own distinct personal character.
For Zuma, this mark of difference is indicated by the restaurant’s high-end approach to the otherwise casual culinary experience, paired with a constantly evolving menu. “Zuma elevated the concept with a sophisticated twist — simply better food, drinks and décor. Dishes have been refined with better quality and variety.” Chef Oscar Luzon de Arcos, Zuma’s Corporate Chef in Asia, commented. The ambience is never austere or rigid, but instead cosy, informal, energetic and, in a pre-Covid world, pulsing with head-bopping beats spun by a live DJ. A favourable gathering spot for celebratory drinks or a quiet tête-à-tête tipple with dear friends. And of course, a delicious spread of the venue’s Japanese-inspired serves.
Lleida-born, Spanish chef Oscar, begun at Zuma London in 2007 before arriving in Hong Kong for his current role as Asia Corporate Chef. Gatekeeper to countless dishes that are rolled out the Zuma Hong Kong kitchen daily, it’s a task not taken lightly: Zuma operates as a singular restaurant across all of its 11 global regions, in other words, every Zuma menu stars a recurring cast of signatures that has been tried, tested, perfected then standardised. If you adored the miso black cod during a visit in New York, you’re likely to relive the same experience across the pond in Dubai. “Normally, before the pandemic, we’d have international guests coming from New York or London and they could place their order without looking at the menu, as certain signature have and always will be there.” Chef Oscar says. It’s what gives Zuma another edge — wherever you may be, the restaurant assumes a comforting, familiar presence.
What does change, however, is Zuma Hong Kong’s seasonal specials (a moment here to unveil the newest summer menu topped with refreshing serves like crispy Mazara red prawn with chilli sour dashi or poached Japanese white peace on almond biscuit with raspberry and lychee, topped with yoghurt ice cream) and broad list of choice when it comes to picking-and-choosing ingredients, including daily, jet-fresh fish from Japan. “Hong Kong is a very demanding city and the competition is always pushing us to create something new to our guests,” commented chef Oscar. “Comparing to other Zuma locations, we are very lucky as our geographical location gives us the advantage to source the best ingredients in the world. We source locally and from our neighbouring countries.”
Zuma’s Chilean Sea Bass with Green Chilli Ginger Dressing
And while there’s really no recreating the contemporary Japanese spot’s infamous brunch at home, there are select known-and-loved signatures worth storing in your recipe book. The Chilean sea bass with green chilli ginger dressing, in fact, is one such dish. It’s a flaky, fragrant favourite high upon all menus and proudly brags over 1,200 serves just at the Hong Kong location in a single month.
“The dish is very much Zuma and presents the concept of contemporary Japanese cuisine well. Great ingredients and Japanese techniques married with a unique Zuma twist; every bite is an explosion of flavours.” Chef Oscar describes.
It’s worth noting though, the sea bass is not fully a Japanese dish, rather it borrows from Japanese techniques in the slicing, marinating and grilling of the fish. “Japanese cuisine is more conservative on flavours and this dish is totally the opposite.” chef Oscar explains. In the Zuma’s edition, the sea bass is marinated in a house-made “secret” teriyaki sauce for an hour, then finished on a traditional binchō-tan grill for the iconic smokey-charred crust and glistening glazed exterior. The final flavours are what makes it Zuma, “citrusy with a kick of spice” — frequent patrons will already recall the bright, zingy notes.
You can always head back this weekend for a satisfying sip and savour of Zuma’s free flow bubbly and a serve of the sea bass. But, should want to impress at your next dinner party or if you’re just a very nifty home-cook currently stuck in hotel quarantine, try your hand at your very own.
Ingredients for Chilean Sea Bass with Green Chilli Ginger Dressing (Serves 2)
|400g||Chilean sea bass fillet|
Ingredients for Marinade
|½ cup||Teriyaki sauce|
|¼ cup||Lemon juice|
|2 pieces||Green chilli (grounded)|
|5 cloves||Garlic (grounded)|
Ingredients for Green Chilli Ginger Dressing
|½ piece||Green chilli|
|1 teaspoon||Sea salt (to taste)|
|5 tablespoons||Grape seed oil|
|5 tablespoons||Soy sauce|
|1 tablespoon||Light soy sauce|
|1 tablespoon||Lemon juice|
|¼ cup||Rice vinegar (to taste)|
- Place Chilean sea bass fillet in a mixing bowl. Pour marinade over the fillet and let it rest for an hour.
- Pan sear both surfaces of the Chilean sea bass. Put it into the oven for 18 minutes at 200°C, times may vary depending the thickness of the cut.
- To make Green Chilli Ginger dressing:
- Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse several times until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Serve the fish over herb salad, and top with green chilli ginger dressing.
Zuma‘s Chilean Sea Bass with Green Chilli Ginger dressing is available for à la carte at HK$320.