Theodorus Chiloane’s green tea-cured salmon, right on the dockside

Theodorus Chiloane’s green tea-cured salmon, right on the dockside
Seafood cure: Chef Theodorus Chiloane’s green tea-cured salmon with sake and grapefruit. (Photo: Supplied)

At 9th Waterside in the Durban docks, chef Theo Chiloane is cresting the wave with what he terms his avant-garde approach to bistro food. Asked to share a recipe with us, he chose his salmon cured in green tea with sake and grapefruit.

Theo Chiloane rules the kitchen roost at one of Durban’s most sought-after restaurants, 9th Avenue Waterside, the name of which tells you exactly where you’ll find it: right in the docklands, with swooping seagulls, ships at moor, and the smell of salty air. A smell that has you salivating for seafood.

Mpumalanga-born and raised Theo, now 34, won this chef post after having to cook for fellow KwaZulu-Natal chef Kayla-Ann Osborn, who has previously shared a recipe with us. Osborn had been asked to help find a brilliant new chef, and after extensive investigation, Chef Theo was her choice. She told my colleague Wanda Hennig at the time, “He blew my socks off. I don’t know where he’s been hiding.”

Chef Theo has a clear vision: “My direction with 9th Avenue Waterside is to reaffirm where the avant-garde approach of bistro style food is heading within the Durban landscape, and educating the general public to be more open to the emotional expression of food as a whole instead of playing it safe and not learning anything new.”

Chef Theo Chiloane with a dish of crayfish, clams, edible soil and champagne foam. (Photo: Wanda Hennig)

And, while not everything on his menu is from the sea, a fair deal of it is. Starters at 9th Avenue Waterside include West Coast mussels and East Coast prawns, though the latter dish has a langoustine bisque curry, prawn tails, and a grilled whole prawn. Scallops are served with a pea purée, smoked tomato and trout roe.

Main courses are much meatier, with sesame chicken (confit leg and roulade), KZN Caldhame duck, beef fillet, rack of lamb and Norwegian salmon, with the day’s “market fish” being a wise option. It’s brushed with peri-peri butter.

For that trial-by-chef Kayla, Chiloane cooked langoustine. He told Hennig: “I decided to make a starter using langoustines so the first thing, when I arrived here, I asked for langoustine shells, partially roasted them, ground them up and then put them, with white wine, through a heating process to make a fumet, which is a concentrated aromatic stock.”

For our Cook with the Chefs feature, Chef Theo has given us his green tea-cured salmon with sake and grapefruit, and there’s a bit of skill required in the preparation of it. But this series is designed for us to be challenged by professional chefs, so we’re not fazed at all.

Chef Theo’s green tea cured salmon with sake and grapefruit

For the cured salmon:

500g salmon fillets 

10g pink salt

50g kosher salt

Zest of 1 lemon

1 stalk of lemongrass

1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented 

20g green tea leaves

For the lime aïoli:

4 egg yolks

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp lime-infused white wine vinegar

1 Tsp salt and pepper

For the grapefruit and sake gel:

100ml Sake 

500ml grapefruit 

1 cup brown sugar 

20g agar agar


For the green tea cured salmon:

Mix herbs and salt in a blender and pulse to a breadcrumb consistency, but not too fine. Coat the salmon fillets and wrap with cling wrap, store in the fridge for 4 hours. Rinse the salt off with ice cold water and pat down the fish to absorb excess moisture. 

For the lime aïoli:

Place all ingredients in a cup and, using a stick blender at a high speed, blend to emulsify. Be cautious not to whip in any air because you might run the risk of it splitting.

For the grapefruit and sake gel:

In a saucepan, boil the sake, grapefruit and brown sugar while constantly whisking. Once the sugar has totally dissolved, whisk in the agar agar at a fast rate to ensure it dissolves. Once properly combined, strain through a fine sieve and refrigerate for it to set. After it has set, blend the gel and pass through a sieve.

Arrange the ingredients attractively on a plate. Dress with the lime aïoli and the grapefruit and sake gel. DM


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