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As award-win­ning chef Richard Ekke­bus ex­plores the farms of Kyushu, Char­maine Mok tags along to note his culi­nary cal­cu­la­tions for Taste of Hong Kong

Hong Kong Tatler - - Concierge -

late night of yak­i­tori and Ja­panese whisky doesn’t stop Richard Ekke­bus from ris­ing at 4am and head­ing to Fukuoka’s Na­ga­hama fish mar­ket to ex­plore the lat­est catch: glossy buri (Ja­panese am­ber­jack) that have been fat­ten­ing through the cold win­ter, or colour­ful gurnard with their blue-tipped fins. But it’s the Span­ish mack­erel, with its mother-of-pearl sheen, that most ex­cites the chef. “The fatty belly will work well as a tartare, and we’ll sim­ply blow­torch the dor­sal fil­let. And we’ll do some­thing with the cit­rus from Miyazaki.”

The culi­nary di­rec­tor of the Land­mark Man­darin Ori­en­tal is on a three-day re­con­nais­sance mis­sion to the south­ern­most of Ja­pan’s main is­lands, Kyushu, to visit farm­ers of the abun­dant land. The pur­pose? To source the best in­gre­di­ents to show­case next month at Taste of Hong Kong, the an­nual four-day fes­ti­val of the city’s vi­brant din­ing scene. “Kyushu has be­come my gar­den and my sea,” ex­plains Ekke­bus, whose whirl­wind trip fo­cuses on Fukuoka and Miyazaki. In­spi­ra­tion abounds as we ex­plore in­no­va­tive farms ded­i­cated to rais­ing wagyu, clams and large, plump Ebisu oys­ters, groves of sweet Hyu­ganatsu or­anges (said to be a lucky mu­ta­tion of the more com­monly known yuzu fruit), and rich fields of round white Ja­panese turnips and fine, fra­grant spring onions.

Ekke­bus and his team will be show­cas­ing such in­gre­di­ents at Taste of Hong Kong, as well as four unique dishes that in­cor­po­rate what he has gleaned from his trav­els, en­abling vis­i­tors to ex­pe­ri­ence the flavours of Kyushu. The dishes will in­clude a soup of potatoes, clams and wakame, and Miyazaki wagyu beef sea­soned with sea­weed and served with pick­led Hakata cabbage. Master­classes will be given on each dish, en­abling din­ers to learn about the prove­nance of its in­gre­di­ents while tast­ing it. “I want to tell a story and not just present food,” says Ekke­bus.

Taste of Hong Kong runs from March 16 to 19 on the Cen­tral Har­bourfront. hongkong.taste­fes­ti­vals.com

HAPPY AS A CLAM Richard Ekke­bus got hands-on with some of Kyushu’s finest in­gre­di­ents

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