Collaboration to develop French recipes(フランス料理開発でコラボ)

Restaurant chef and owner Kentaro Mori, right, and fisherman Motofumi Kikuchi talk about recipes using local fish and shellfish at Wine Bistro Cote D’or in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.(相馬の魚介類を使用した料理について話し合う森さん(右)と菊地さん)

 An up-and-coming chef and a fisherman in Soma, a coastal city of Fukushima Prefecture, are joining hands to develop French recipes using locally hauled fish and shellfish, as part of efforts to boost local fisheries that were dealt a great blow in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
 The pair is trying to create a new charm of the city by doing such creative and ingenious things as presenting new proposals on food materials and the use of rare fish species and disseminating such information in and outside the prefecture. A large-scale food tasting event was held on Aug. 22-24, which the pair hopes will "contribute even a little to the restoration of the city."


 Kentaro Mori, owner of restaurant Wine Bistro Cote D'or, and fisherman Motofumi Kikuchi regularly hold discussions at the restaurant, which serves French and Italian dishes in the city, to develop a new menu of French dishes. They said Soma is a treasure house of fish, adding that it will be possible to present cuisine completely different from that developed up to now and foster it as a brand.

 「相馬は魚の宝庫。これまでと違った食べ方の提案でブランド化できるんじゃないか」。相馬市の市街地でフランス料理やイタリア料理を扱う「ワインビストロ コートドール」店内で、店主の森健太郎さん(41)と漁師の菊地基文さん(41)がメニュー開発へ打ち合わせを重ねる。

 After opening the restaurant in April last year, Mori, 41, soon started developing a menu of dishes utilizing local products. He was inspired by Kikuchi, 42, who has been at the front of the efforts of young local fishermen. Based on the data of fish unloaded in different seasons at a port in Soma-Haragama district, the pair has been promoting the development of a menu.


 Roughscale sole, or same garei, does not look good but its taste has a high reputation, and budo ebi shrimp has a high value for its rarity -- even many local residents are unaware that these marine creatures are unloaded at ports in Soma. "To begin with, we want the local people to recognize this and hopefully the information spread elsewhere," Mori said, looking ahead.


 At the Soma-Futaba Fishery Cooperative Association, a project has been undertaken since the 2011 disaster primarily by young fishermen to enhance the added value of fish. Shinkei-jime, or making the fish braindead, is one of the techniques to keep the meat of fish fresh for a long time. The number of fishermen who learn about this technique has been increasing gradually, a fact reflecting their sense of crisis over the reconstruction of fisheries.


 "We have clung to the reputation of the Joban brand [given to fishery products unloaded at ports south of Fukushima Prefecture], but we shouldn't be satisfied just with that," Kikuchi said. He is trying to find a way of conducting fishery business that will outdo what was adopted until the 2011 disaster by distributing fish of higher quality. The development of a menu of French dishes he has been pushing ahead with Mori is one of such initiatives.
 Kikuchi pins his hopes on local rejuvenation, saying, "By collaborating with such a hard-working chef [as Mori] to disseminate information on local attractions, I believe Soma will absolutely become an interesting place."


 If dishes using local food materials prevail, it will become an incentive to encourage tourism, too. Mori and Kikuchi said that, above all else, the local residents will become able to take pride in their community, and they would like to see this initiative gradually expand.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2018年8月18日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】