Red Emperor Nabe with a 3 Fish Ceviche – IMBB V

IMBB5 readers – hello and welcome. Regular readers unaware of the Is My Blog Burning event, here’s some background.

The unlucky guest, a Red Emperor,is one of the finest white fleshed fish available in the seas of Western Australia. A whole fish needs to be given its dues. More so for having been yanked out of a happier place and further still for being named like the missing link between Puyi and Mao. The result was simple but elaborate, or maybe vise versa. As much as I like my fish simple, it deserved a little more in it’s starring role than a dab of butter.

A nabe (nahbeh) is a kind of Japanese steam boat, or a fish stock fondue. Really it’s just seafood, tofu and vegetables cooked around a table in broth – popular for cold weather home parties. The ceviche is not really a ceviche at all but sashimi with dressing, catering for birthday guests who might have found raw fish a bit much. It was added to get the full value of the fish’s flavour and to do 3 things with the fish rather than just one.

“Traditional” cuisine in Australia is a head scratcher and my childhood fish experience was crumbed fish digits. The rationale was a menu that would make the best use of the fish, keep me out of the kitchen when guests arrived, allow me a bit of nostalgia, and be geographically specific as it’s winter down here -although a sunny 18C winter.

There’s all the gear – just missing food.

Red Emperor

The head and bones were for the broth, the wings for later to be put in the nabe dish for ongoing stock value. The best part of the fillets was kept as a strip to be sliced as sashimi for the ceviche. The rest was cut up into bite sized pieces. These pieces would be for the guests to put into the nabe pot, cook, and eat.

The Broth

An A5 amount of konbu seaweed left to sit in a couple of litres of cold water for 20 minutes and then brought to the boil. Just before it does boil, the konbu has to come out. Konbu is the base for dashi stock and I’ve recently learnt that it’s a natural source of the MSG like mysterious fifth flavour – umami. Into the pot went the fish head and the bones to simmer for 30 minutes. The resulting strained broth is what all the ingredients are cooked in at the table.

The Rest

not the definitive list by any means but here’s what we cooked along with the fish.

  • a dozen fresh shiitake mushrooms – stems removed

  • firm tofu – microwaved for 1 minute to firm – bite sized pieces

  • fried tofu -rinsed in boiling water – bsp

  • bamboo shoot – half cm slices

  • half a daikon -half cm slices and parboiled.

  • a dozen prawns – the body shelled, poo tube removed

  • a dozen crayfish legs

  • a dozen baby squid tubes- halved and scored.

  • kamaboko (fish cake) – half cm slices

  • chinese cabbage and spinach roll – both boiled and then as beneath, rolled then sliced.

Dipping Sauce

2 parts soy to 1 part ponzu(lemon vinegar). Guests just put a small amount into their bowl.

Three Fish Ceviche Entree

Sashimi grade, tuna and salmon and the fillet of Red Emperor with the skin removed. Sliced into half cm thick pieces, lain on a bed of thinly slice lemon, with the following dressing drizzled over it.

Half a cup of local extra virgin olive oil; 1 tbs white wine vinegar, 12 green peppercorns; and the juice of lemon. Crushed in a pestle and given a stir. The chopped green bits of spring onions provided colour.


The broth went in the nabe pot and then we all sat around dropping food in and arguing about whose was whose. The delicately flavoured pieces of Red Emperor were well served by a quick swim in the light broth. The standout though was the ceviche – tuna and salmon are my sashimi regulars but the Red Emperor was heaven. The citric acid test was passed. The cold glassy eye of the fish still stares at me, but this was the best I could do to say sorry and thank you.


Without the following this may have not been possible.

Rummages around recycle bin..

Brandy and Dry – settle an upset tummy

Red Bull and Tequila – get things going a bit

Emerson’s 1812 IPA – an Indian Pale Ale from NZ – best thingout of there since The Datsuns

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout- wowly exceptional stout

Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbeer & Dunkel- world’s oldest brewery -free glasses!!

Alias Pinot Noir 2001 (Adelaide)- supposedly a cutely titled release from a winery that usually puts this stuff out at three times the price. Pat myself on the back bargain.

Became a bit of a blur after this, vaguely remember laughing at Robert Plant’s trousers again.

Footnote: In thanking the fish and the booze, I should have also thanked my guests, you know who you are, for the seafood, gifts, drinks, and good company. You all score 11.

Update: Wena has done a great job with the list of submissions. Go read.

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  1. Reid’s avatar

    This dish looks really delicious. I’ve never had this type of dish before, but I do love to eat chankonabe. Did you catch the fish yourself?

  2. Wena’s avatar

    kewl!! my uncle caught 3 of this huge luverlies last month and we’re still trying to eat it all up!

  3. Anthony’s avatar

    Thanks and thanks

    Reid – Very flattered by the question but no. I’m too much of a fishing duffer for that. Maybe we need IMBB -hunter gatherer to get me out there. Chankonabe is sumo food – so you go easy.

    Wena – If you need any help : )

  4. Anonymous’s avatar

    Hi stranger!

    Your IMBB dish sounds fab – and I would particularly have liked to try the red emperor ceviche…

    I’m back & blogging this week – see you in the blogosphere!


  5. Anonymous’s avatar

    Now that’s what I call a fish. Impressive alcohol consumption – respect.

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    It’s thirsty work.

  7. Anonymous’s avatar

    Wow Anthony, that’s one beautifully fishy blog. The not fishy bit is quite pretty as well. I’ll have to add yet another food blog on my reading rotation.


  8. Anthony’s avatar

    Thank you Pim. You’ve a gorgeous blog and a good heart too. Will post on your MSF appeal very soon.

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