Credit: Photography: Earl Carter

Zing of pearls

Andrew McConnell is the executive chef and co-owner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc.

Finger limes are an indigenous fruit that is now very popular in restaurants. Unlike some trends in restaurants, there’s a good reason for this.

I’ve started using them in the past couple of years. There are different varieties that range from a very intense lime flavour to something with hints of eucalypt. I’ve been using them across savoury dishes and desserts.

For me, one of the most attractive elements of a finger lime is the texture it brings to a dish. The flesh of the lime is unlike an ordinary lime – they are much more like fish roe, the small pearls of citrus holding their shape until they are burst as they are eaten, releasing their flavour. The pop of the finger lime pearls brings an interesting element, something like a small explosion of flavour.

To use a finger lime, cut a small slit down the side of the fruit and turn the skin open against your thumb. The pearls can then be removed with a spoon, taking care not to burst them, and removing any seeds you may find as you go. Once I’ve removed the pearls – if I’m not going to use them immediately – I store them in the fridge in an airtight container with a small bit of damp paper towel. Ideally, I would use them the same day.

Another fruit where the flesh breaks into little pearls is the pomelo. I’ve eaten this primarily in savoury dishes, as the base to quite an elegant Thai salad.

The fish in this recipe is a kingfish. Snapper would be a good substitute, as would sea bream. Sashimi such as this is one of the quickest and simplest fish preparations, and it’s something I make quite a lot at home. It’s also incredibly healthy.

When I say it’s quick and easy to prepare, that’s given you have a good sharp knife. When you’re choosing a piece of fish for sashimi, ask your fishmonger for something from the middle of the fish – there will be less sinew than from the tail. Always cut across the grain of the fish to ensure the best texture.


1 . Raw kingfish with sweet ginger dressing and finger lime

Serves 4

– 200g piece of sashimi-grade kingfish

– salt

– sweet ginger dressing (recipe below)

– 1 tbsp wild onion flowers (also known as onion weed)

– 1 finger lime

With a very sharp knife, cut the kingfish fillet into slices about three millimetres thick. Lay the slices on a serving plate and season with a sprinkling of salt.

Spoon the dressing generously over the fish. Scatter the wild onion flowers over the fish slices.

Cut the finger lime open lengthways and loosen the little globules of juice with the tip of a knife. Scatter about half a teaspoon of these over the fish and serve immediately.


– 1 tbsp sweet ginger vinegar

– 1 tbsp white soy sauce

– 1½ tsp rice wine vinegar

– ¼ cup grapeseed oil

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to two days.

Wine pairing:

2015 Unico Zelo Harvest sauvignon blanc, Adelaide Hills ($20)

Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 29, 2016 as "Raw kingfish, sweet ginger dressing, finger lime".

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Andrew McConnell is the executive chef and co-owner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc.