Go On A Japanese Odyssey With Richard Ekkebus Of Amber

Digest

February 11, 2017 | BY Hong Kong Tatler

As award-winning chef Richard Ekkebus explores the farms of Kyushu, we tagged along to note his culinary calculations for Taste of Hong Kong.


 

Richard Ekkebus examines some hyuganatsu oranges at Toyama Seiichi's orchard in Miyazaki
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 

Hyuganatsu are said to be a lucky mutation of the more commonly known yuzu
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 

Richard Ekkebus at the Nagahama fish market in Fukuoka City at 5:30am
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 

Richard Ekkebus at the Nagahama fish market in Fukuoka City at 5:30am
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 

Fishermen harvesting Spanish mackerel off of Genkai Island, north-west of Fukuoka City


 

Farmed clams from the Shikanoshima intermediate breeding facility
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 



Richard Ekkebus at a JA Itoshima farm, where they grow Japanese white turnips known as kabu
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 

Richard Ekkebus at a JA Miyazaki wagyu farm
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 

Richard Ekkebus at Inoue Kouji's negi (Japanese green onion) farm in Fukuoka
Photography by Tyrone Wu


 A 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 Amber at 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 expo 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 called kabu.

“I want to tell a story and not just present food."—Richard Ekkebus

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. Some of the planned 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.

In the run-up to Taste of Hong Kong, we'll be releasing a series of short films focusing on the individuals and ingredients on Ekkebus' culinary journey.

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

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