Josiah Citrin of Melisse spills the beans on what it’s like to be a two-star Michelin chef (like winning an Oscar, apparently) and local boy cooking in LaLa Land – and how he fuses French finesse and Los Angeles style to create the sort of food you want to eat whether you’re out with your grandmother, or with a Hollywood star.


  • Abalone

  • 6 baby abalone

  • 10g butter

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil

  • Confit Fennel

  • 1 large fennel bulb

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • pinch of sea salt

  • Fennel Yuzu Puree

  • 10g butter

  • 100g sliced onion

  • 250g sliced fennel

  • 100g chicken stock

  • 50g cream

  • salt and white pepper

  • 30g yuzu juice

  • 2g yuzu kosho

  • Uni Emulsion

  • 200g milk

  • 200g cream

  • 40g uni tongue

  • 30g tamari soy

  • 30g yuzu juice

  • 2g yuzu kosho

  • fleur de sel and cracked black pepper


  • Abalone:

  • 1.

    Three days in advance remove the abalone from their shells and with a damp towel, rub and clean the black rim as much as possible.

  • 2.

    Lightly pound the abalone ten times with a tenderising hammer and return to the refrigerator for 24 hours.

  • 3.

    Repeat this process two more times.

  • 4.

    Score the abalone in a crisscross shape on the flat side.

  • Confit Fennel:

  • 1.

    Cut fennel in half from top to core. Lay the fennel flat side down and cut from top to core, five even slices from each half.

  • 2.

    Cook the fennel sous vide with extra virgin olive oil and salt in 83C water for 45 minutes.

  • 3.

    Remove the fennel slices from the bag and sauté in a very hot pan on both sides until caramelised. Keep warm

  • Fennel Yuzu Puree:

  • 1.

    Melt the butter in a medium size sauce pan. Add the onions and sweat for about three minutes on medium heat. Add the fennel and continue cooking for another seven minutes. Add the chicken stock and cook until the stock is reduced by half. Add the cream and simmer for another five minutes.

  • 2.

    Transfer the mix into a vitamix blender. Add the yuzu juice and kosho. Blend until smooth and strain through a fine sieve and keep warm.

  • Uni Emulsion:

  • 1.

    Bring the milk and cream to a boil and transfer into vitamix blender. Add the uni, soy, yuzu juice and kosho. Blend until smooth.

  • 2.

    Strain the emulsion through a fine sieve into a sauce pan and keep warm.

  • To finish:

  • 1.

    Heat six plates. Heat a sauté pan on high heat, add one tablespoon butter, one tablespoon oil and the abalone. Let the abalone sear for one minute then flip and sear for another 30 seconds. Add the remaining one tablespoon butter and baste for 30 seconds.

  • 2.

    Place a dollop of puree in the center of the plate, a piece of fennel.Cut the abalone in half and place on fennel with the scored side facing up. Season the abalone with fleur de sel and black pepper.

  • 3.

    Blend uni emulsion with a hand blender until frothy, spoon a little over the abalone and serve.

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