Representative from Irréel Ningyocho: Chef-Owner Tetsuya Shimada
I just happened to discover a few products produced in Onagawa when searching for delicious ingredients
I would like to introduce our dish named “Lobster Bisque with Onagawa Sea Pineapple, Scallop, and Smoked Shrimp.” We are using smoked shrimp in addition to Senrei Sea Pineapple and Senrei Scallops for this dish. Then we add a lobster broth and fresh creme to this combination of ingredients to create a delicious bisque. In addition, we added broccoli, snap peas, and green beans, topping it all off with dill as the selected herb.
One of the reasons why we decided to use sea pineapple and scallops together is because they are both products from Onagawa. The French word “medley” describes something that is a mixture of two or three things. With this image in mind, we used smoked shrimp as the third main ingredient in this dish to coordinate the sea pineapple and scallops. The smoked flavor of the shrimp plays a role in making all the ingredients of the dish work together.
We informed our customers about Onagawa using information written in our menu and other means. I do not select ingredients straight off based on where they are from as this is secondary. This means that when I was searching for quality ingredients they simply happened to be products from Onagawa. For example, our vegetables come from Matsudo City. These delicious vegetables simply happen to be from that place. The same is true for the sea pineapple and scallops that we are using for this dish…they just happen to be from Onagawa. Of course there is a big difference between seafood products that are caught and then brought to Tokyo to be processed compared to seafood products that are processed locally soon after they are caught. I think that this is where Senrei’s strength lies.
The original rich, delicious flavor of the scallops is brought out by how we thaw them
It actually takes two days for us to thaw the Senrei Scallops that we use for this dish. At first, we take them out of the freezer, wash away the ice coating which is on the surface of the scallops, and then place them in a net which is then placed in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. They are not covered with plastic wrap but rather placed in an area of the refrigerator which has a sufficient amount of airflow to dry the surface of each scallop. We then wrap the thawed scallops in paper and store them and normally use them within two days.
Generally speaking, there is a lot of moisture present after thawing foods, a process which also results in foods having a weaker flavor. However, removing the moisture in advance causes the flavor to be more concentrated. A crude way to describe it is that the food becomes a bit “aged.” For example, even if fresh seafood has a nice consistence when being chewed, its scent and flavor are not yet apparent due to its fresh state. So slightly aging the seafood product will bring out a richer flavor. Of course not doing this correctly will result in spoilage, so it’s not all that easy. I would say that this is a technique used in French cuisine. Although people in Japan tend to like foods that have a juicy freshness, it is said that the opposite is true in France as people would say that food in that state is “not yet delicious.”
Cooking Senrei Scallops after removing some of their moisture further brings out their true flavor. This strengthens their rich sweetness and flavor, leaving a sticky feeling on the tongue of the diner which makes them really impressed. These scallops have a richer flavor than the raw scallops that we used. Juicy ingredients have slippery surfaces, therefore they only remain in contact with the tongue for a short amount of time. However, what I am looking for is a flavor that remains in the mouth for a while. Senrei Scallops are really great for that. Sauce also mixes really well with the scallops, allowing us to prepare them to be even more delicious.
We started using CAS frozen processed food products 10 years ago and are still using some of these products, including white asparagus and freshwater prawn. I feel that CAS freeze processing technology is being put to good use as scallops have a large moisture content. This is also apparent from the amount of moisture that has come out of the scallop after it has thawed.